American drones hit al-Shabab members for the fourth time in just over a week as the latest airstrike took out four suspected terrorists in the Somali town of Gandarshe, on Saturday. And on Monday an airstrike in the Somali town of Qunyo Barrow killed an al-Shabab member on Thursday and another terrorist and wounded two others.
U.S. Army Brigadier General Miguel Castellanos, U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) Deputy Director of Operations, spoke to the American Military News and said that “as al-Shabaab seeks to terrorize the citizens of Somalia, we remain committed in our efforts to assist the Federal Government of Somalia.”
Castellanos added, “Al Shabab is a common enemy. These airstrikes continue to degrade al-Shabaab and support international efforts to bring enhanced security and stability to the region.” AFRICOM was quick to point out that no civilian casualties resulted from these latest drone strikes.
The U.S. is stepping up the drone attacks on al-Shabaab in 2020 after the terror group has increased its attacks on villages, government installations, and civilian targets.
The U.S has been criticized for reportedly targeting civilians in these drone strikes. Ali Mohamud Rage a spokesman for the al-Qaeda aligned al-Shabaab, called the latest American airstrikes “civilian carnage” and added that over 80 percent of American drone strikes in the past three years have targeted innocent Somali farmers.
However, the terrorists have had to change their routines since they are easy targets when hiding out in remote villages. The terrorist leaders and rank-and-file fighters have had to move into more urban areas to hide from the ever-increasing airstrikes. Last year the United States conducted 60 airstrikes in Somalia, up from 47 the year before and 35 back in 2017. This attack on Saturday was the 17th airstrike that the U.S. has conducted so far this year.
Castellanos released a statement on March 6 about the previous airstrike in which he said that the U.S. supports the Somali government and together the two sides will work to stop the terrorists from exporting their violence.
“Al-Shabaab’s leadership recently reiterated its primary focus of attacking American and Western targets beyond Somalia’s borders. Al-Shabaab remains fully committed to exporting violence,” he said. “We support the international security assistance model in Somalia. Our support, coupled with other international partners, restricts that ambition as the Somali forces continue to grow in capability.”
“It’s not Black Hawk Down anymore,” Somalia’s ambassador to the U.S., Ali Sharif Ahmed, said earlier this week in Washington. “Our relationship with the United States has never been so good.”
“U.S. security assistance to Somalia is an important part of our efforts to work with the people and government of Somalia for peace and stability,” U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto said, reiterating the U.S. aim for regional stability. “It also means that the people of Somalia will be able to better focus on building a prosperous future.”