A single United States military airstrike killed an estimated 100 or more fighters allied with the Somali-based terror group al-Shabab, Pentagon officials revealed Tuesday, adding to an escalating body count as the Trump White House ramps up the counterterrorism campaign in the East African region.
American forces working with the Somalian government on Tuesday confirmed an American sortie against a suspected al-Shabab camp ended with more than 100 fighters dead. The strike, which took place 125 miles west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, was the largest casualty count racked up by U.S. warplanes operating in Somalia this month.
“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” via partner nation forces including those with the African Union and Somali federal forces, according to a statement issued by U.S. Africa Command, shortly after Tuesday’s strike.
Tuesday’s strike against the al-Shabab compound was the fifth such attack by American fighters against targets associated with the terror group inside Somalia.
Several terrorist militants were killed during a couple of initial airstrikes on Nov. 3, while several more died during a Nov. 14 U.S. strike on an al-Shabab target 60 miles northwest of Mogadishu, command officials confirmed at the time.
American warplanes took out a single Somali jihadi during a Nov. 11 strike, after observing the target participate in a coordinated ambush of a U.S. and Somali convoy moving thru the Gaduud region in the southwest part of the country.
“U.S. forces observed the al-Shabab combatant participating in attacks on a U.S. and Somali convoy. U.S. forces subsequently conducted the strike under collective self-defense authorities,” command officials said regarding the Nov. 3 strike.
There are currently 500 United States military personnel stationed in Somalia, supporting and conducting American-led counterterrorism operations throughout the country, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said earlier this month. He declined to comment on the exact number of al-Shabab fighters based in the country, or whether other terror groups like Islamic State were gaining a foothold in the Horn of Africa.
In one of its first national security actions, the Trump administration ordered in May an acceleration of American-led operations to dismantle and destroy the al-Shabab terror network in Somalia. The order came weeks after Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken was killed in a Navy SEALs raid against a known al-Shabab stronghold in the country.
His death was the first U.S. casualty in Somalia since 18 American soldiers were killed during the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident in 1993.
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