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US military drone strikes kill 29 Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia in 2020

Somalia
By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two Al-Shabaab militants succumbed to their injuries after joint airstrikes conducted by Somali National Army [SNA] and US military, officials said, in the latest operation carried out at Buulo Fulay in Somalia.

Friday's operation at Bay region was the 32nd in 2020, with most of them targeting the militants in central and southern Somalia, where they have converted most remote villages to training and recruitment cells, officials said.

Details released by the ministry of information and tourism indicate that two militants died on spot, although their identities could not be established immediately, owing to the complex standard procedure by the joint forces.

The ministry said, "Two members of the terrorist organization were killed in the strike. No civilians were killed or injured" in a statement, further showcasing the prowess of the Somali military and their US partners.

Previously, there have been complaints of civilian casualties, although the US forces have repeatedly defended their operations as "well thought and executed" before unleashing against the Al-Qaida linked group.

Bay region is prone to frequent Al-Shabaab raid. The airstrikes come barely two days after SNA troops recaptured Deynunay town, 20 kilometers from Baidoa, the regional administrative capital of Southwest.

Gen. Mohamed Sheikh Abdullahi, the commander of the 60th Division of SNA, confirmed the attack at the army base in the Bay region, adding that over 12 militants died during the encounter.

Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, deputy director of operations, U.S. Africa Command, said Friday's attack against Al-Shabaab shielded SNA troops from "obvious" fight back.

"This latest airstrike supported our partners in pushing back against al-Shabaab and enhancing security in Somalia,” he said. “Our partners know they can rely on us and the unique support we offer.”

So far, at least 29 Al-Shabaab militants have died solely from the joint airstrikes since January, officials added. Key among them was Bashir Qorgab, the Al-Shabaab operative linked to Manda Airfield raid in Kenya early this year.

It's in Somalia the US military has carried the highest number of airstrikes this year, surpassing those executed in Syria and Iraq, the hotbed for ISIS and Al-Qaida militants, AFRICOM observed. Last year, there were 63 airstrikes in Somalia.

"As of the date of this report, 29 militants have been killed in joint airstrikes this year," read the statement. "These airstrikes against Al-Shabaab show commitment by both the US and Somalia government to get rid of terrorist cancer from Somalia."

Notably, the deaths do not represent those tallied from ground combats, which are significantly higher. For instance, SNA troops and AMISOM have killed hundreds of militants since January.

In a bid to educate residents against Al-Shabaab's frequent distorted information, the ministry insisted that the forges are keen to "prevent civilian casualties" in a campaign to get rid of militants.

"This contrasts sharply the indiscriminate killings of civilians by the militants in Somalia," added the statement, in solidarity with SNA soldiers, who are set to fully assume security assignments next year.

Significantly, the troops have managed to liberate strategic towns once controlled by the militants. Janaale which is located in Lower Shebelle was the latest to be seized last week.

But the spirited militants held a conference Dubbed "Consultative Forum Regarding the Jihad in East Africa" on March. 13 for five days, in which they discussed their current misfortunes, a statement dispatched to friendly media outlets confirmed.

While condemning the wrath from American troops and allied forces, Al-Shabaab promised to "empower" its sympathizers across the country, to "prosper" economically, the statement added.

"To safeguard the economy of Muslims and their resources, to inspire and encourage domestic produce such as farming, livestock rearing, and Investment," it read.

Also, the militants condemned the frequent drone strikes by the US, which they claimed target "innocent civilians", besides rebuking Kenya and Ethiopia for alleged "forceful occupation" and "atrocities" against our people.

Intelligence reports also indicate that the militants are cash-stripped, leading to squabbles among its top leadership. Ahmed Diriye, the group leader, had expelled finance boss Mahad Karate, leading to unprecedented limbo, the report revealed.

While noting the essence of building a functional state in Somalia, the US says that "we recognize that stability in Somalia will not be achieved through purely military means".

U.S. Africa Command, the military said, will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia to FGS and federal states.

GAROWE ONLINE

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