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US airstrike kills Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist in Somalia

MQ-9 Reaper during Exercise Northern Strike 2019. (Arizona Air National Guard/Released)
March 06, 2020

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted a second airstrike in Somalia this week, killing at least one terrorist of Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based terror group affiliated with Al Qaeda.

The airstrike, which did not kill or injure any civilians or others, took place in Qunyo Barrow, Somalia on Thursday.

“Al-Shabaab’s leadership recently reiterated its primary focus of attacking American and Western targets beyond Somalia’s borders. Al-Shabaab remains fully committed to exporting violence,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, AFRICOM’s deputy director of operations, said in a statement to American Military News.

“We support the international security assistance model in Somalia.  Our support, coupled with other international partners, restricts that ambition as the Somali forces continue to grow in capability,” Castellanos added.

AFRICOM’s previous airstrike, which took place on Monday also in Qunyo Barrow, Somalia, killed one terrorist and wounded two others.

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“US Africa Command is focused on support to the Federal Government of Somalia and helping them end al-Shabaab‘s brutal ambitions and treatment of the Somali people,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Bill Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command, in a statement to American Military News on Monday.

“Striking al-Shabaab leadership, fighters, facilities and areas of operations is one of the ways we continue to pressure their network,” Gayler added.

“Al-Shabaab leadership has expressed its primary desire is to conduct attacks not just in East Africa, but against Americans and U.S. interests across the globe. International efforts and the persistent pressure placed on al-Shabab helps contain the group’s broader ambitions and desire to conduct attacks beyond Somali borders,” the statement continued.

Friday’s strikes are the 16th airstrike operation conducted against al-Shabaab in Somalia so far this year. Five of the strikes took place in January, and nine in February.

More than a dozen Al-Shabaab terrorists have been killed so far this year, with numerous other wounded, in addition to damaging or destroying multiple terrorist compounds.

“Al-Shabaab kills regularly and indiscriminately,” Brig. Gen. Castellanos said last month. “This al-Qaida affiliate exploits innocent Somalis, displaces families, and imposes illegal taxes through force and violence. They want to export their vision of destruction more widely. It is our collective international efforts and persistent pressure that prevents this from occurring.”

U.S. forces have been positioned in Africa for years, targeting both ISIS-Somalia terrorists and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab terrorists.

AFRICOM conducted more than 60 airstrikes in Somalia during 2019, setting a record. They previously conducted 47 airstrikes in 2018 and 35 in 2017.

“Since al-Shabaab’s first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds,” Maj. Gen. Gayler said in a December 29 statement.

“They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans. They are a global menace and their sights are set on exporting violence regionally and eventually attacking the U.S. homeland,” Gayler added.