MOGADISHU, Somalia – US forces say they have carried out three drone strikes within 24 hours in Somalia, the intensification of their campaign against the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab and the Islamic State of the group.
The strikes by unmanned drones killed several extremist fighters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military command in Africa told The Associated Press Sunday. With these three attacks, the US has now carried out 26 attacks in Somalia against extremist targets in 2017, she said.
The latest US strikes were carried out in coordination with the somali government, ” she said.
The first attack happened Saturday at about 4:30 a.m. local Somalia and killed, a fighter for the extremist group al-Shabab, said a U.S. Africa command statement. The strike took place in the near Gaduud, about 250 km southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, said.
The U.S. strikes came after al-Shabaab attacked a convoy of AMERICAN and Somali troops, said.
“We rate no civilians were anywhere near the site,” said the spokeswoman. “We take all the measures taken during the targeted process carefully to ensure that civilian casualties and collateral damage and that we comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict.”
The second strike took place on Sunday at about 3 o’clock in the morning against al-Shabaab in the Lower Shabelle region, about 40 miles west of the capital, Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, is the fault of the huge truck bombing in Mogadishu last month that killed more than 350 people. It was Somalia’s worst ever attack, and one of the world’s deadliest in years.
Al-Shabab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda “and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks around the world,” said the spokeswoman, adding that al-Shabab “has publicly committed to the plan and execute attacks against the united states and our partners in the region.”
The third strike was directed against the Islamic State group in Somalia, in the northern Puntland region, she said. It happened at about 9 a.m. Sunday. This is the second US attack the group in Somalia. The first was earlier this month. The group WAS formed in Somalia in the past two years and many of his fighters have defected from al-Shabab.
“The AMERICAN troops will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures for the protection of the Americans, and disabling terrorist threats,” said the spokeswoman. The AMERICAN troops are engaged with the somali security forces and the 22,000-strong African Union force of soldiers from the neighbouring countries and they are “aimed at terrorists, their training camps and safe havens in Somalia, the region and around the world,” she said.
The Trump of directors earlier this year approved extensive military operations against the extremists in this Horn of Africa nation.
The somali president has promised a “state of war” against the extremists, but concern is growing that if the African Union force leaves Somalia, the national army will not be able to cope. The AU this week announced the beginning of the withdrawal from the long chaotic and still severely fractured nation, saying it will cut of 1,000 troops by the end of the year. The AU extension is set to be completed by the end of 2020.