US military confirms airstrikes against Al-Shabaab in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The US military has confirmed four suspected senior Al-Shabaab commanders were on Sunday killed following a series of airstrikes in southern Somalia, without revealing their identity, Garowe Online reports.
The US African Command confirmed launching three airstrikes targeting two locations in Lower Shebelle, adding that the raids were carried with the help of the Somali National Army (SNA).
Qunyo Barrow and Caliyoow Barrow villages which have been the breeding ground for the terrorists were the main targets, the US military said.
“Since al-Shabaab's first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command.
US has deployed over 500 troops to Somalia under AFRICOM, who usually help with intelligence and training of Somali soldiers.
Although Washington has expressed interest in withdrawing troops from Africa, Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently said, Somalia will not be affected.
“They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans. They are a global menace and their sights are set on exporting violence regionally and eventually attacking the U.S. homeland," Gayler added.
The initial assessment concluded that Qunyo Barrow airstrikes killed two terrorists and destroyed two vehicles and another airstrike killed two (2) terrorists in Caliyoow Barrow village.
Reports tabled by the United Nations in recent past have often indicted the US military of targeting civilians in such airstrikes.
But the Sunday's airstrikes, US said, "We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of these airstrikes."
"We comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict during the course of our operations to ensure the safety of civilians," read the statement.
According to the US military, the latest airstrikes targeted the senior Al-Shabaab militants following Saturday's deadly attack that left 85 dead in Mogadishu.
The international community has condemned the attack although no group has claimed responsibility. Al-Shabaab has, however, carried similar attacks previously.
"These precision airstrikes targeted al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with al-Qaeda," US military added.
With the help of Somalia, the US said it will "increase pressure on the terrorist organization in order to deny them the ability to plot terrorist attacks".
Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Omar in October accused the US of "destabilizing" Somalia, adding that most of the airstrikes targeted innocent civilians.
Throughout this year, peace troops in Somalia have intensified onslaught against Al-Shabaab, who have since retreated to some remote villages.