"If they come to Somalia, they need to know that those who fought them in 1993 and dragged their bodies in the streets of Mogadishu are still present and ready to drag their dead bodies again," Rajhi said.

Mogadishu battle

The US has long been involved in training Somali government troops.

But now it says it might send troops to help a new offensive which aims to push al- Shabab out of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Somalia's government would welcome US air support for an expected offensive aimed at retaking control of areas from the al-Shabab rebels, Sharif Ahmed, the Somali president, said on Tuesday.

The New York Times cited an unnamed US official in Washington saying that the offensive could begin in a few weeks. "What you're likely to see is airstrikes and Special Ops moving in, hitting and getting out," the official said.

In recent months, US advisers have helped supervise the training of Somali forces to be deployed in the offensive.

US officials said that this was part of a continuing programme to "build the capacity" of the Somali military, and that there has been no increase in military aid for the coming operations, the paper said.

US military intervention in Somalia in the early 1990s, when it led a major international relief operation, ended in disaster after UN forces were drawn into fighting with local warlords.

During the so-called "Battle of Mogadishu" in October 1993, forces loyal to warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid killed a total of 18 US soldiers on a single day, dragging some of their bodies through the streets of Mogadishu.