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US naval ships arrive in Somalia to help withdraw troops

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US naval ships arrived in Somalia Monday to support withdrawal of troops from the country, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The ships arrived off the coast of the Horn of Africa, 16 days after President Donald Trump ordered pullout of troops.

The 700 personnel had been in Somalia for years undertaking operations against the armed group, al-Shabab.

In a statement, the US Africa Command said the troops will be sent to other East Africa operating locations.

The troops will be rebased in Kenya or Djibouti, where they will continue to pile pressure on al-Shabab.

Africom Commander General Stephen Townsend noted Saturday that the US is not withdrawing or disengaging from East Africa. ”We remain committed to helping our African partners build a more secure future”, he said.

The move comes as Donald Trump seeks to wind down US military engagements abroad during his final weeks in office.

He ordered US troop levels to be slashed by mid-January in Afghanistan and Iraq, to 2,500 troops in both cases.