The U.S. military carried out a series of deadly airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend, leaving dozens of militants dead.
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) released a statement early Monday morning revealing that U.S. forces had conducted six airstrikes that killed a total of 62 militants of al-Shabaab – the largest affiliate of al Qaeda.
Four of the airstrikes took place on Saturday, where forces targeted a known location of al-Shabaab militants in Gandarshe, Somalia. An estimated 34 militants were killed after the four strikes.
Another two airstrikes took place on Sunday also in Gandarshe, Somalia, killing another 28 al-Shabaab militants.
“All six (6) airstrikes were conducted in close coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and targeted a known al-Shabaab encampment. U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,” AFRICOM said.
— US AFRICOM (@USAfricaCommand) December 17, 2018
The targeted airstrike did not cause any civilian injuries or casualties.
“Alongside our Somali and international partners, we are committed to preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of 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,” AFRICOM added.
Al-Shabaab has a significant presence in Somalia, where they have been countered steadily by the Somalian government backed by U.N. support.
More than 500 U.S. troops are deployed to Somalia and will remain there until the government can independently handle their security, according to Time Magazine.
Airstrikes on Somalia were authorized by President Donald Trump in March 2017 in order to begin countering al-Shabaab’s deadly and growing influence.
Approximately 46 airstrikes have been conducted against al-Shabaab this year alone, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. military says 62 Al-Shabab militants killed in six airstrikes conducted on Dec 15 and 16 in the Gandarshe area, South of Mogadishu. US airstrikes in Somalia this year are inching closer to 50 w/ over 300 militants killed, per @USAfricaCommand https://t.co/liu4BxqGrd
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) December 17, 2018
In October, U.S. forces conducted its largest Somalian airstrike of the year, killing an estimated 60 militants in Haradere.
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.
Much of al-Shabaab’s presence is in coastal Somalia near Mogadishu.
The map below highlights Al-Shabaab activities in #Kenya & #Somalia. The group remains a threat in the south despite increased aerial operations by U.S military, AMISOM and SNA. It also remain unchallenged in central regions. https://t.co/zfNo7ixx0R pic.twitter.com/dpES0BOKHI
— Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) October 12, 2018
In the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 released in September, 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.