Five Al-Shabaab militants killed by drone strike in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A second drone strike within Bush Madina town left five militants dead on Friday, the US military said, few hours after eliminating three others not far from the town.
The US Africa Command has intensified its raids against the Al-Qaeda linked group in southern and central Somalia, leaving dozens of the militants dead in recent weeks.
Friday's airstrike was the 33rd within this year, setting a new record on the US anti-terrorism war. The US onslaught against the militants in Somalia has now officially surpassed such raids in Syria and Iraq, where the military had been executing many airstrikes.
"The command's initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed five terrorists," AFRICOM said, adding that "we currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike".
Amnesty International has been the leading crusader against the air raids, accusing the US of "opaqueness" and "lack of accountability" to the large number of civilians who succumb to such airstrikes.
Marine Corps Bradford J. Gering, deputy director of operations, U.S. Africa Command, said Al-Shabaab's main agenda is to engineer unprecedented violence against unarmed civilians.
“Al-Shabaab’s goals, rhetoric, and its over-reliance on both coercion and violence mirror al-Qaida,” he said in a statement, condemning the group for orchestrating unnecessary deaths across East Africa.
“It’s our command’s responsibility to support our partners so this terrorist group can’t expand and strike the U.S. homeland as its leaders desire to do.”
Usually, the US military only gives aerial surveillance to the ground combat team chosen from among elite officers from SNA and AMISOM troops, who have managed to seize a number of towns from the militants.
While the group remains significantly degraded, it has however managed to launch catastrophic sporadic attacks within Somalia, mainly targeting security forces and unarmed civilians.
Statistics from the US Africa Command indicate that the terror group has close to 7,000 active insurgents in Somalia, although it was witnessed massive defections in recent years due to internal squabbles.
But in support of the FGS, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations, AFRICOM said.
Together with the partner and allied forces, AFRICOM added, U.S. Africa Command works on a daily basis to improve security conditions to enhance governance and economic development.
Next year, most security duties will be delegated to Somalia's SNA soldiers, who have been undergoing training for the last couple of years. AMISOM, which is in charge of a peacekeeping mission, is set to vacate by 2021.
This year alone, the US military airstrikes have now left a total of 37 Al-Shabaab militants dead. One of the notable death was that of Bashir Qorgab, an operative who engineered Manda Airfield attack in Kenya, and had been on US surveillance with a $5 million bounty placed on him.