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US airstrike kills terrorist while targeting senior leader in Somalia

MQ-9 Reaper during Exercise Northern Strike 2019. (Arizona Air National Guard/Released)
August 25, 2020

A U.S. airstrike has killed a member of the Al Shabaab terror group, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said Tuesday.

In a press statement provided to American Military News, AFRICOM said a U.S. airstrike targeting a senior leader of Al Shabaab resulted in at least one terrorist killed. It was not immediately clear if the terrorist killed was the senior Al Shabaab leader or another member of the militant group, which is based out of Somalia.

Asked for clarity about the identity of the terrorist killed, an AFRICOM spokesman said “He was a member of Al Shabaab — we are not able to release any additional information at this time.”

The U.S., working in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, launched the airstrike in the vicinity of Saakow, Somalia on Tuesday.

The initial AFRICOM assessment stated one member of the Somali terror group was killed and there were no additional civilian casualties.

“Working with our Somali partners, we continue to weaken and degrade the al-Shabaab network,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, the deputy director for operations for AFRICOM. “Our efforts are increasing security and helping to disrupt al-Shabaab’s future plans and ambitions.”

The Al Shabaab Somali terror group has in the past shown ties with both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, ISIS.

The strike comes less than a week after another AFRICOM mission, which killed an Al Shabaab bomb-maker planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on a roadway in Somalia.

AFRICOM has carried out numerous other strikes targeting Al Shabaab in 2020.

In July, an AFRICOM led strike killed one of the group’s fighters and destroyed a checkpoint the terror group was using to extort travelers and restrict the movements of people near the Somali capital city of Mogadishu.

Another major AFRICOM airstrike in April killed one of the terror group’s foundational members, Yusuf Jiis. Days after Jiis was killed, AFRICOM killed eight more Al Shabaab militants in another set of April airstrikes and then killed 11 more militants yet a further set of airstrikes just days after that.

“U.S. Africa Command and our international partners recognize that stability in Somalia will not be achieved through purely military means. It requires strong governance and providing economic programs and opportunity for the Somali people,” Tuesday’s AFRICOM statement concludes. “In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces contribute to the training of Somali forces and use a range of effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people. U.S. Africa Command continues to work with its Somali partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States.”