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US forces kill 60 Somali terrorists in largest airstrike this year

A MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft takes off in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Through the use of advanced capabilities, focused doctrine and detailed training the predator provides integrated and synchronized close-air combat operations, to include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. (Tech. Sgt. Sabrina Johnson/U.S. Air Force)
October 17, 2018

This week, the U.S. Military revealed their latest airstrike in Somalia was the largest carried out in a year, and about 60 terrorists were killed.

The strike was carried out on Friday in conjunction with the Somalian government and killed an estimated 60 al-Shabaab terrorists in Haradere, Somalia – the largest airstrike since a Nov. 21, 2017 attack that killed 100 terrorists, according to a statement by U.S. Africa Command on Tuesday.

The precision airstrike was in support of the Somalian government’s efforts against Islamist group al-Shabaab to minimize their ranks, impair their movement in the region, and deter their future terror attacks.

The strike was conducted by an unmanned drone, two U.S. defense officials told CNN. No civilians were injured or killed.

Africa Command said it was working with Somalia and other international partners against al-Shabaab in an effort to reduce the prevalence of their terror attacks in Somalia.

“In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists,” said the Africa Command statement.

“The desired end state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organizations cannot destabilize Somalia and its neighboring states, nor threaten the interests of the U.S. and its international allies in the region,” the statement added.

Just days after the attack, al-Shabaab terrorists fired upon U.S. partner forces in Araara, Somalia, prompting the U.S. to conduct another small airstrike that killed four terrorists on Oct. 14.

“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting terrorists, their training camps, and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region,” Africa Command said in a statement on Monday.

At least 27 airstrikes have been carried out by the U.S. against al-Shabaab during 2018. Most of the strikes are small, killing just a few terrorists at a time, however.

U.S. forces became authorized to conduct precision strikes against al-Shabaab in support of the Somalian government when President Trump signed an authorization in March 2017.

Al-Shabaab carried out Somalia’s most deadly terror attack in October 2017 when they detonated a massive truck bomb in Mogadishu, killing at least 500 people and injured hundreds more.

In the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 released last month, Somalia was deemed a “terrorist safe haven.”

“Al-Shabaab experienced significant military pressure during 2017, but the group still maintained control over large portions of the country. Al-Shabaab retained the ability to carry out high-profile attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), suicide bombings, mortars, and small arms,” the report said.