The United States conducted an airstrike on February 17 on an al-Shabaab compound in Somalia. The official statement from AFRICOM didn’t report on any casualties but did state that no civilians were injured in the airstrike.
However, the Horn of Africa Observer (HAO) reported that three al-Shabab members were killed in the U.S. airstrike. The airstrike comes days after what the HAO reported as a U.S military plane air-dropping leaflets with a wanted American citizen who has joined the terror group. According to the leaflets seen in Diinsoor town of the Bay region, the U.S. promised a $5 million bounty on information leading to the arrest of an American citizen Jehad Serwan Mostafa.
Despite the ongoing reporting of operations in the Sahel region, this was the fifth airstrike by the U.S. on the al-Shabab terror group in February. The terrorists of al-Shabab are aligned with al-Qaeda and claimed responsibility for an early January attack in Kenya that killed three Americans and damaged or destroyed several aircraft.
The Pentagon received the go-ahead to conduct the airstrike from the Somali government, according to a press release.
“It is important to counter this al-Qaeda-aligned group’s ability and intent to plan and carry out attacks in Somalia and more broadly,” AFRICOM’s deputy operations director, Army Brigadier General Miguel Castellanos said. “This precision strike does just that.”
The U.S. airstrikes carried out earlier in February resulted in the death of two al-Shabab members, the injury of two others, and in “severely degrading” another compound near Jilib.
This airstrike comes on the heels of two al-Shabab attacks on isolated Somali bases that resulted in the death of 12 Somalian soldiers. The terrorists used an explosive-laden vehicle driven by a suicide bomber followed by an assault by dozens of heavily-armed fighters. They briefly captured the el-Salini base as their heavily-armed fighters stormed in. The military then recaptured the base after reinforcements arrived and forced the terrorists back.
According to a report by al-Jazeera, Nur Ahmed, a police officer from Afgoye in Lower Shabelle region said that “they took the base and took weapons and ammunition, this includes anti-aircraft guns fixed on pickups.”
In the second attack, African Union Mission to Somalia (AUMISOM) troops were able to rally and push back the terrorist forces after an al-Shabab bomber drove a vehicle onto a bridge leading to the Qoryooley army base, about 60 miles west of the capital Mogadishu and detonated it.
“The terrorists carried out an … attack on the military bases at Qoryooley and El-Salini but our brave boys repelled them. They have suffered heavy casualties this morning and the army is in full control in both areas now,” said Mohamed Adan, a Somali military commander.
The terrorists try to attack the lightly defended towns and drum up support for their cause by showing that the government forces are weak and unable to defend these towns from their influence.
“Their aim was to destroy the town’s bridges. They have damaged one and we foiled their attempt on the other one. Then, dozens of heavily armed fighters attacked us. They have destroyed part of the bridge across the entrance to Qoryooley, where the Somali military base is located, using a vehicle loaded with explosives,” Adan added.