The United States military killed six al-Shabab terrorists and wounded three others in an airstrike in Somalia. There were no civilian casualties. The airstrike followed after the al-Qaida-linked group attacked Somali forces while U.S. forces, which were there to advise their Somali partners, were close by.
According to a statement by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Monday’s airstrike was carried out near Dar as-Salam village in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region after al-Shabab fighters attacked Somali troops from a nearby building.
“When this airstrike occurred, U.S. forces were in the vicinity in order to advise and assist Somali partner forces. Al-Shabaab falsely claimed U.S. casualties. No U.S. forces were injured or killed during the attack,” AFRICOM’s statement read.
Al-Shabab frequently inflates claims of U.S. and Somali casualties by means of propaganda videos in an attempt to attract recruits to its banner, drum up popular support, and seek media attention.
Colonel Chris Carns, AFRICOM’s spokesman said: “Al-Shabaab routinely resorts to the tradecraft of terror, crime, and propaganda to intimidate and seek control of the local populace. Persistent pressure against the al-Shabaab damages their narrative, network, and plans for broader destruction and violence.”
The terrorist group is one of the most active Islamic extremist groups in Africa. AFRICOM has called the group a “danger to Africa and the United States.” As a result, the U.S. has increased the number of airstrikes in Somalia against al-Shabaab: Last year the U.S. conducted 63 airstrikes in Somalia. So far, this year, the number has been 45, which is more than were carried out in total during the Obama administration.
On August 25 another U.S. airstrike targeted a senior al-Shabaab leader in the vicinity of Saakow, Somalia. AFRICOM claims that in that strike, one terrorist, a known bombmaker, was killed as he was preparing to plant IEDs along a public road. No civilian casualties were reported.
The dead al-Shabaab terrorist was known as Abdulkadir Commandos according to Somali military sources. He was one of the most-wanted members of the group.
“We are glad that our operations are bearing fruit,” General Ismail Abdelmalik told the media in a radio interview. “We managed to kill a number of militants in ground combat and obviously the airstrike left one most-wanted militant dead. This is a tremendous achievement for our team.”
“Working with our Somali partners, we continue to weaken and degrade the al-Shabaab network,” U.S. Marine Corps MG Bradford Gering, AFRICOM’s Deputy Director for Operations, said. “Our efforts are increasing security and helping to disrupt al-Shabaab’s future plans and ambitions.”
Somali troops and those from the African Union’s mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have been steadily pushing the terror group deeper in Somalia’s interior, especially in the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions. However, the AMISOM forces are due to be withdrawn in December.
In January, an al-Shabab attack on a U.S. airbase in neighboring Kenya killed a U.S. service member and two U.S. contractors. U.S. officials believe that the attack was accomplished with the help of the terror group’s facilitators inside Kenya.
Somalia has been wracked by violence from al-Shabaab for more than a decade. The violence in the country has killed thousands and displaced more than a million people.