US confirms death of senior al-Shabaab commander in airstrike

US confirms death of senior al-Shabaab commander in airstrike

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

WASHINGTON – The U.S. military command overseeing operations in Africa confirmed the death Friday of a senior commander of al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked extremist group, in an airstrike over the weekend.

Ali Muhammad Hussein, known as Ali Jabal, was killed Sunday in a U.S. airstrike near the city of Tortoroow in southern Somalia, according to U.S. Africa Command. The military command said no civilians were killed or injured in the strike.

Hussein served as the commander of al-Shabaab forces operating in the regions surrounding Banadiir and Mogadishu, the capital city, and had been linked to planning and executing attacks against Mogadishu. U.S. Africa Command said the strike had been “a direct response to al-Shabaab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces.”

“His removal disrupts al-Shabaab’s ability to plan and conduct attacks in Mogadishu and coordinate efforts between al-Shabaab regional commanders,” U.S. Africa Command said in the statement.

“We continue to work in coordination with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al-Shabaab, and help achieve stability and security throughout the region.”

The strike was conducted under new authorities President Donald Trump granted to the military in March, which allowed the military to carry out offensive operations against the group in designated “active areas of hostility” in support of partnered forces.

Al-Shabaab, considered the third largest al-Qaeda affiliate, controls territory in southern and central Somalia. The terror group was pushed out of the capital city of Mogadishu in 2011, and lost control of Somalia’s most populated areas.

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