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US airstrike takes out 2 Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Somalia

An MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base, NV., June 25, 2015. (Senior Airman Cory D. Payne/U.S. Air Force)
May 18, 2020

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) successfully targeted a pair of Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab members in Qunyo Barrow, Somalia on Sunday.

After initial assessments of the strike, which was coordinated with the Federal Government of Somalia, AFRICOM assessed it had killed two members of the terror group in the airstrike. AFRICOM also assessed no civilian casualties from the strike.

“U.S. Africa Command affords our partners over-watch and added precision capabilities,” said Col. Christopher Karns, the director of public affairs for AFRICOM. “This enemy has no regard for the lives of innocent Somalis and the group presents a threat to the Somali people, the U.S., and interests abroad.”

The U.S. has provided air support throughout past operations in Somalia, supporting Somali National Army troops and local security forces fighting against the Al Shabaab insurgency.

“The U.S. support to our Somali partners is and will remain strong,” U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the director of operations for AFRICOM said in a statement following the strike.

AFRICOM has remained persistent in its operations against Al Shabaab targets and various other aspects of its mission in Africa despite the global disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.

AFRICOM has continued to carry out numerous airstrikes in Somalia, targeting and eliminating dozens of Al Shabaab fighters.

As of March, AFRICOM had carried out at least 19 airstrikes against Shabaab since the start of the year, and have conducted several more since then. Those U.S. forces in Africa 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.

“U.S. Africa Command and our 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’s statement continued. “In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use a range of effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia and Somali National Army forces.”

AFRICOM previously said it is working with its Somali partners to transfer responsibility for maintaining security conditions on to the Federal Government of Somalia and its member states.