US airstrike targets Al-Shabaab commander in southern Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - An airstrike coordinated by Somalia government and the US military left one militant dead in the notorious town of Jilib, US African Command said, adding that "no civilian was injured".
Jilib town remains one of the regions still under Al-Shabaab control in Middle Juba despite the group losing substantial control across the country.
For the last one month, the US has conducted at least four airstrikes in Southern Somalia, killing dozens of militants, AFRICOM said.
Such operations are held jointly with Somali National Army [SNA] picked from elite Danab squad which has since managed to liberate several towns.
Airstrike meant to stabilize FGS
With close to 500 soldiers in Somalia, the US usually helps in air surveillance, helping Somalia's ground troops in sophisticated operations.
U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Bradford Gering, said, "Airstrikes extend the reach and influence of government while creating conditions for development and a better future for Somalis."
The deputy director operations added: "Reducing the influence and plans of al-Shabaab benefits Somalis as well as the broader international community.”
Both SNA and allied forces have increased attacks in the Middle and South Juba, with a series of them coming after the Mogadishu attack.
The attacks are part of a retaliation strategy against the notorious terror group. The Mogadishu attack left 90 dead, police said.
No civilians affected
While such airstrikes have left heavy casualties on the civilians before, the US military said: "no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike."
The initial assessment concluded the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist, although his identity could not be established immediately.
Al-Shabaab militants have been using Jilib town as their capital, with authorities estimating that hundreds of youths are radicalized in the town daily.
The ground forces have not managed to run over the town which is heavily guarded by the Al-Qaida associated group.
Al-Shabaab determined to gain ground
Last year, the Al-Shabaab militants accused the US of targeting civilians in this airstrikes, warning that "we shall not hesitate to protect our people".
Ahmed Omar, the group's leader, was captured in the video saying "we shall flush them out of Muslim land. Their hands are full of blood."
There was an attempted attack on the Ballidogle army base, which hosts the US soldiers and the elite Danab troops, although it was repulsed last year.
Close to 22,000 soldiers from AMISOM protect the fragile UN-backed Somalia government, which is yet to gain authority and influence.
AFRICOM relentless battles against Al-Shabaab
U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia, AFRICOM said.
In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces, "will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people".
Although there are plans to withdraw the US military from Africa, the Department of Defense has ruled out the possibility of the plan affecting Somalia.
Somalia has operated without a substantive government since the assassination of Siad Barre, a dictator par excellence in 1991.