JOHANNESBURG – A U.S. military air strike has killed 18 al-Shabab extremists after the U.S. and local forces on the ground came under fire in the south of Somalia, the U. S. Africa Command said Saturday.
No AMERICAN or Somali forces were killed or wounded in the attack, an AFRICOM spokesman, Nate Herring, told The Associated Press. The air raid was carried out Friday in self-defense after the extremists were, “observed the maneuver on a combined patrol,” while the US has also responded with “indirect fire,” the spokesman said.
The confrontation occurred about 50 kilometres (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo, the U. S. Africa Command statement said. Two other al-Shabab extremists have been killed by Somali troops, “with small arms fire during the mission,” he said.
The operation was Somali-led, the AFRICOM spokesman. There was no immediate comment from the Somali authorities.
The US has carried out more than 20 air raids this year against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa.
The AMERICAN military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump in the beginning of his term, approved, extensive operations against al-Shabab. Dozens of drone strikes followed. At the end of last year, the army also carried out the first airstrike against is a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State in the north of Somalia.
Since the extended operations, two AMERICAN soldiers are killed in Somalia.
A service member was killed in May of 2017 during an operation about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Mogadishu. And in June, a U.s. special operations soldier was killed and four U.S. service members injured in a “enemy attack” as troops with Somali and Kenyan troops came under mortar and small arms fire in Jubaland.
The US currently has around 500 soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation.
Al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, was pushed out of Mogadishu in the past few years, but continues to control rural areas in the south and central regions. The fighters continue to attack the foundations of a multinational African Union force that is largely responsible for the security, as Somalia’s fragile central government is trying to recover from decades of chaos.
In the coming years, the Somali forces is expected to take over responsibility for the country’s security of the AU force withdraws. The concern about their willingness to remain high, and the U. N. security council recently voted to delay the completion of the reference date up to and including December 2021.
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