US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has confirmed that a US airstrike killed more than a dozen al-Shabab militants in Somalia this week, the deadliest strike against the terror group in months.
VOA first reported the strike on Monday.
AFRICOM said in a press statement on Wednesday that it struck al-Shabab terrorists who were “actively attacking Somali National Army forces” on Sunday at a remote location near Teedaan, Somalia.
“Command’s initial assessment is that the strike killed 13 Al-Shabaab terrorists and no civilians were injured or killed,” AFRICOM said.
Military officials in central Somalia told VOA by telephone on Monday that the US airstrike killed 14 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia’s central Hiran region.
The Somali army added that it had captured the group’s main stronghold in the region, located outside the town of Mahas, and had also destroyed its hiding places.
Last week, AFRICOM said it carried out an airstrike outside Beledweyne, the capital of the Hiran region that borders Ethiopia. AFRICOM said the airstrike, also carried out in support of the Somali National Army, killed four al-Shabab terrorists.
Abdurahman Sheikh Azhari, director of the Mogadishu-based Center for Strategic Analysis and Studies, told VOA that the US is again increasing its role in Somalia as part of “ongoing US strategic policy and the interest in the region,” noting that President Joe Biden has pledged to return the small US troop presence that was withdrawn by former President Donald Trump.
The recent airstrikes follow the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as Somalia’s new president and Mohamud’s pledge to fight al-Shabab on all fronts.
Daniel Furnad, associate director of the Nairobi-based Farsight Africa Group, said AFRICOM selects its targets carefully and only participates in actions that are unlikely to cause civilian collateral damage, while eliminating resources from great value for al-Shabab.
He added that Washington was concerned that al-Shabab would widen its scope of operations to include Ethiopia, but added that he did not believe the airstrikes in Somalia were linked to recent al-Shabab incursions into the territory. Ethiopian.