On Tuesday, the Pentagon revealed that a single U.S. military airstrike wiped out more than 100 al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.
As part of Trump’s campaign to fight terrorism in West Africa, the U.S. forces worked with the Somalian government to attack the al-Shabaab camp at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The airstrike hit 125 miles northwest of the the Somalia capital of Mogadishu.
“Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks throughout the world,” said the U.S. Africa Command in a press release on Tuesday. “Al-Shabaab has publicly committed to planning and conducting attacks against the U.S. and our partners in the region. U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats.”
In the last 13 days, seven strikes targeting terrorist bases have been sent by U.S. forces in Somalia. There have been 29 total airstrikes in the country as part of the counterterror campaign to fight against al-Shabaab and ISIS.
“The Defense Department now has 500 personnel in Somalia including military, civilians and contractors, more than double the 200 personnel that had been reported to be in Somalia in March 2017, according to US Africa Command,” writes CNN. “The personnel are part of the effort to support African forces fighting al-Shabaab as well as ISIS forces there. While estimates have fluctuated over time, the US now estimates there are between 3,000 and 6,000 al-Shabaab fighters and less than 250 ISIS operatives in Somalia.”
U.S. military officials in Somalia have said that the recent increase in airstrikes is only due to the recent intel.
“So there’s no particular rhythm to it, except that as [targets] become available and as we’re able to process them and vet them, we strike….I do not believe necessarily there’s a ramp up. It’s the density of targets is such that now there’s some opportunities to do those strikes,” said Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie. “We strike targets as they become available. Some of those targets had been — we’d been working them for a long time. I’m not prepared to say it’s linked to the fall of Raqqa. I’m just not prepared to make that linkage.”
The Trump administration ordered to increase the counterterrorism operations in Somalia in May. He also gave the African Command commander the power to ordered airstrikes when necessary. Before they were only permitted as an act of self-defence by the U.S. forces.
Although the Al-Shabaab has lost significant control in the country, the terrorist group still has a strong presence.
Al-Shabaab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab has publicly denied that Tuesday’s attack happened and referred to it as merely “propaganda.”
However, both the U.S. Pentagon and SONNA, Somalia’s state news outlet, reported that the strike killed at least 100 militants.
U.S. forces also sent two drone strikes in Libya Friday and Sunday targeting ISIS.
Author’s note: We applaud the recent U.S. military efforts, but the problem in Somalia is almost impossible to solve.