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The American-led military mission in the Horn of Africa is saying little about the outbreak of war between Ethiopia and the Islamic union that controls much of neighboring Somalia.

Some 1,800 troops and civilians make up Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, based in Djibouti.

Among the missions are military-to-military training and humanitarian aid projects in Ethiopia.

“We are continuing support of CJTF-HOA missions throughout our area of responsibility. We review the security situation as it applies to our personnel and adjust as necessary,” Maj. Kelley Thibodeau, spokeswoman for the command, said Tuesday.

“We are carefully monitoring the situation in Somalia.”

Political and military analysts say the fighting in Somalia — including the bombing of two airports by Ethiopian fighter planes — could spill into a regional conflict in the Horn of Africa countries. The U.S.-led mission is a counter-terror and humanitarian program with projects in several nations.

Ethiopian officials called the attacks a measure of self-defense against the Islamic movement that controls parts of Somalia.

The Ethiopian officials claim the movement has sponsored secessionists in Ethiopia and is harboring terrorists.

Islamic movement officials have denied those charges.

According to news reports, Islamic fighters in Somalia are now in a “tactical retreat,” with Ethiopian forces advancing on three fronts in their attack.

The Council of Islamic Courts announced the move Monday.

“The war is entering a new phase,” Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, leader of the council’s ruling body, was quoted as telling The Associated Press.

“We will fight Ethiopia for a long, long time and we expect the war to go everyplace.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Saturday that his government sent troops into Somalia.


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