Turkey is providing special commando training to 150 Somali soldiers as part of a military cooperation deal between the two countries, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
The training of the Somali Armed Forces soldiers is taking place at Turkey's Counterterrorism Training and Exercise Center in the southwestern province of Isparta, according to a ministry statement.
"We are providing Basic Commando Training to 150 guest military personnel from the Somali Armed Forces," it said. "The training, which began on Dec. 21, 2020, continues as planned."
Last August, Turkish Ambassador to Mogadishu Mehmet Yılmaz told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkey is on track to train one-third of Somalia's military forces, totaling around 15,000-16,000 personnel.
Relations between Turkey and the Horn of Africa nation have been historically strong and picked up pace after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made an official visit in 2011, the only visit by a non-African leader to Somalia in 20 years.
Turkey has also continued its support to Somalia with humanitarian aid in the health, education and security sectors.
Turkey's vast aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine endeared the country to many Somali people, and it has continued to pour in aid, much of it from private companies. Turkish organizations have also built schools, hospitals and infrastructure and have provided scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey.
As the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has extensive experience fighting terrorists, Turkish training of the Somali military is helpful in countering Somalia's own terrorist threats.
Turkey’s biggest overseas military training base, which was inaugurated in 2017, is located in Somalia and is also among the largest foreign-run military centers in the country.
Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of President Siad Barre's military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of the al-Shabab terrorist group, which once controlled large parts of the country and the capital.
After being pushed out of its main bastions by the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) in 2011, the terrorist group has continued to wage war against the government, with regular attacks on Mogadishu and other East African countries including Uganda and Kenya.