On Tuesday U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced U.S. airstrikes that killed five members of the Al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda.
The airstrike was carried out on Monday near the Somali town of Jilib. AFRICOM disclosed the strikes in an emailed statement provided to American Military News.
AFRICOM provided its assessment of the strike, claiming five members of Al-Shabaab were killed and said there were no civilians injured or killed in the strike. AFRICOM provided that assessment while acknowledging contradicting reports that some civilians had been harmed in the strike. AFRICOM stated it carried out the strike in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.
“As with any allegation of civilian casualties U.S. Africa Command receives and reviews any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties,” the AFRICOM statement reads.
Last week the humanitarian group Amnesty International wrote a report criticizing AFRICOM’s accountability practices throughout what it called the “secret air war in Somalia,” and claimed the military command of the practice of “smear its civilian victims as ‘terrorists.'”
On the day before the Amnesty International report, AFRICOM announced it was revising its accounting practices to review potential civilian casualties and “increase transparency regarding civilian casualty allegations.”
AFRICOM’s Monday statement continued stating it and other “international partners recognize that stability in Somalia will not be achieved through purely military means. It requires providing programs and opportunity for the Somali people.”
AFRICOM assessed in a separate emailed statement Monday that an airstrike carried out last week resulted in the death of three other Al-Shabaab fighters, including one of the organization’s high-ranking members, Yusuf Jiis.
While we might like to pause our operations in Somalia because of the Coronavirus, the leaders of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS have announced that they see this crisis as an opportunity to further their terrorist agenda so we will continue to stand with and support our African partners,” U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the AFRICOM commander said of the strike against Jiis.
There have been more than 20 U.S.-led airstrikes in Somalia since the start of 2020. Over the weekend, the military command announced a series of airstrikes near Mubaraak, Somalia had killed eight members of the Al-Shabaab terror group.
AFRICOM set a record for airstrikes in 2019, having conducted more than 60 airstrikes in Somalia over the year. They previously conducted 47 airstrikes in 2018 and 35 in 2017.