Friday August 3, 2018
BY BILL ROGGIO & ALEXANDRA GUTOWSKI
The US military killed four Shabaab terrorists in an airstrike 74 miles northwest of Mogadishu yesterday. This is the first strike that the U.S. Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM) has publicly announced in two months.
“We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike,” according to the AFRICOM press release that announced the operation.
AFRICOM also noted that Shabaab, which is al Qaeda’s branch in East
Africa, continues to maintain both “training camps” and “safe havens
throughout Somalia and the region.”
The US military has launched 19 strikes against Shabaab in 2018,
Major Karl J. Wiest of AFRICOM Media Relations said in an email to FDD’s Long War Journal.
The military is on pace to match or exceed last year’s strike total of
31, a record high in the decade-long air campaign that has primarily
focused on Shabaab and its predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union.
The targets of this year’s strikes include “al-Shabaab militants,
fighting positions, infrastructure, and equipment,” Wiest said over
email. “U.S. forces in cooperation with the government of Somalia, are
conducting ongoing counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab and
ISIS-Somalia to degrade the groups’ ability to recruit, train, and plot
terror attacks in Somalia and the region.”
While the airstrikes have killed some of Shabaab’s top leaders and
targeted its infrastructure, they have not had an appreciable effect on
Shabaab retains a potent insurgency despite US airstrikes and
engagement from the Somali government and African Union forces. Over the
past several years, the group has launched attacks that have killed
hundreds of African Union forces from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and
Ethiopia. These Shabaab assaults have forced African Union troops to
withdraw from several cities and towns in southern Somalia. Shabaab also
controls large rural areas and some towns in southern and central
Shabaab recently overran a joint Somali-Kenyan base and claims to have overrun two towns in the south.