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Top ISIS-Somalia leader killed by US airstrike

U.S and Moroccan Soldiers work alongside each other during the U.S. Army Africa commanding general’s visit to the field training exercise portion of exercise African Lion 2019 near Tan Tan, Morocco, March 27, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Angelica Gardner)
April 16, 2019

A top ISIS leader in Somalia has been killed by a U.S. airstrike, dealing a huge blow to the Somalian branch of the terror group.

The U.S. Africa Command confirmed in a statement on Monday that a U.S. airstrike was launched on ISIS terrorists in the village near Xiriiro, Somalia on Sunday, killing ISIS-Somalia leader Abdulhakim Dhuqub.

“As second in command of ISIS-Somalia, Dhuqub was responsible for the daily operations of the extremist group, attack planning, and resource procurement,” the statement said.

Dhuqub was the only one killed in the attack, and one vehicle was destroyed. No civilians were hurt or killed in the strike.

The statement added that the attack was part of a coordinated effort with the Federal Government of Somalia to “degrade violent extremist organizations.”

“We continue to work with our Somali partners to keep pressure on the al-Shabaab and ISIS Somalia terror networks,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. “When it supports the strategy, we use precision airstrikes to target those who plan and carry out the violent extremist activities that put Somalis at risk.”

U.S. Africa Command’s efforts in Somalia are focused on helping the Somalian government “advance economic development, increase governance, and further develop its military institutions.”

The Command conducts airstrikes in support of Somalia forces and improves security so key developments can occur and flourish without terrorist impediment.

“U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people,” the statement added.

The effectiveness of airstrikes in Somalia has recently come under question, despite 47 strikes last year that killed dozens of ISIS terrorists.

AFRICOM’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February, “At the end of the day, these strikes aren’t going to defeat al-Shabab.”

Waldhauser noted that although the airstrikes are dwindling the ranks of al-Shabab – the largest affiliate of Al Qaeda — it’s imperative that the Somalian military increase their numbers and their capabilities to effectively counter the terrorists.

In December, U.S. Africa Command carried out six airstrikes on al-Shabab, killing 62 terrorists.

In October, U.S. forces conducted its largest Somalian airstrike of the year, killing an estimated 60 militants in Haradere.

Airstrikes on Somalia were authorized by President Donald Trump in March 2017 in order to begin countering al-Shabaab’s deadly and growing influence.

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