Mogadishu, Somalia — The U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) has once again confirmed that U.S. forces, in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), have conducted three ‘precision airstrikes’ in the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia killing six of the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM).
USAFRICOM reported in a press release that the airstrikes occurred at 2:15 A.M. local Somalia time as well as stating that:
The operation occurred in southern Somalia, about 260 kilometers south of the capital, Mogadishu. The U.S. conducted this operation within the parameters of the authorities granted by the President [Trump] in March 2017, which allows U.S. forces to conduct lethal action against al-Shabaab within a geographically-defined area in support of partner forces in Somalia.
U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF); targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world.”
USAFRICOM Media Relations spokesperson, Robyn M. Mack who spoke with SOFREP in regards to this latest strike added that the airstrikes were in direct support of troops on the ground, saying, “The militants [al-Shabaab] were operating in close proximity to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) forces that were in the area and were deemed as a credible threat.” Which fell into the strike parameters outlined by both the Trump administration and the Federal Government of Somalia.
Mack, however did not confirm whether or not U.S. forces were also on the ground augmenting the Somali and AMISOM forces or what U.S. strike platform was used in this morning’s airstrike.
SOFREP reached out to The Odyssean, a regular contributor to the site, who among other things has an extensive background on the U.S. Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) which includes the weaponized MQ-9 “Reaper” Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and had this to say: “Essentially, the vast majority of strike platforms within the East African, Horn of Africa (HOA) area of operations (AO) are mostly RPAs (Remotely Piloted Aircraft).” Also known as UAVs, UASs (Unmanned Aerial Systems), or drones.
The Odyssean continued:
[A]s I understand it, the gov just doesn’t want to chance losing pilots or jet fighters on strike missions in Africa. ISR Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) missions are generally flown high, are non-invasive, and thus are easily evasive. Strike missions require [jet] fighters to basically be low and slow[er]. Reapers can drop Hellfires [air-to-surface missile] from pretty far out and pretty high up.”
USAFRICOM also confirmed with SOFREP that the vicinity of the airstrikes occurred in or near the rural village of Kunya Barrow with the Lower Shabelle region which lays 260 kilometers south of the Somalia captial city of Mogadishu.
Kunya Barrow along with the rugged, rural region of the Lower Shabelle is known to have been under the control of al-Shabaab forces for quite some time. In April al-Shabaab began blocking foreign aid workers and their supply convoys; stealing food, water, and medicine by any means necessary, and turned right around and distributed the stolen goods within their areas of control in the southern Somalia region.
Al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing known as the Amniyat proclaimed these acts of kindness to the Somali people as a campaign to win “the hearts and minds” of the beleaguered and starving people of the Lower Shabelle with the hopes that the campaign would fill the ranks of al-Shabaab for the now all-out offensive being wrought by the Somali and U.S. forces against the group as of late.
In late July, SOFREP also reported that Kunya Barrow was also the site for a joint U.S.- Somali Special Operations commando raid that hit two al-Shabaab targets, one of which was suspected of being a detention center, freeing several prisoners of al-Shabaab and taking an unknown number of al-Shabaab fighters captive. In that same raid, SOFREP also confirmed that a regional commander of al-Shabaab named Ali Dhere was killed during the joint raid with sources within the Somali military initially confirming to SOFREP that the commander killed was the terror group’s deputy commander and chief spokesperson, Ali Mohamud Rage. This later proved to be false and the al-Shabaab commander killed in the raid shared the same nom de guerre as the enigmatic Rage.
It seems that U.S. airstrikes are occurring almost on a weekly basis within the war-torn East African country of Somalia, indicating that the Trump administration is making good with its promises of increasing its support by way of airstrikes and U.S. Special Operations on the ground in advisory roles. With al-Shabaab being hunted 24/7 by the ever watching U.S. “eye in the sky” along with AMISOM and SNA forces with U.S. SOF advisors on the ground. It seems that the “War on al-Shabaab” as the Somali government has dubbed its offensive, is all but hurdling to its final phase of eliminating the terror group from the countryside of Somalia.
Feature image courtesy of: Associated Press.
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