US calls in airstrikes in Somalia

US calls in airstrikes in Somalia

By Loree Lewis   
MQ-9 Reaper drone (Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Paul Ridgeway)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. conducted a defensive airstrike against an armed group of al-Shabaab militants Wednesday during a joint U.S.-Somali counterterrorism operation in the southwest of Somalia.

“During the Somali-led counterterrorism operation, a group of armed al-Shabaab terrorists posed an imminent threat to Somali-led and U.S. forces. In response, the U.S. conducted a self-defense strike against the armed militant group to neutralize the threat,” said Samantha Reho, a spokesperson for U.S. Africa Command.

The U.S. followed that airstrike with two offensive airstrikes, conducted under military authorities President Donald Trump granted in March of this year. The strikes killed seven militants in total, according to U.S. Africa Command.

U.S. Africa Command declined to identify the objective of the Somali-led counterterrorism operation, which took place in the city of Jilib, about 200 miles southwest of Mogadishu. CNN reported, however, that the intended target were members of al Shabaab’s intelligence network.

Al-Shabaab is a regional al-Qaeda affiliate that is known to plot and carry out attacks both in Somalia and abroad. They have waged a fight against the Somali government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The U.S. has between 50 and 100 special operations forces on the ground in Somalia, participating in a mission to train, advise and assist local forces.

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