US military: We helped Somalia soldiers under attack from Al-Shabaab
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The United States soldiers came in defense of the Somali National Army [SNA] and allied forces who were under Al-Shabaab siege, US Africa Command has confirmed, just days after the federal government of Somalia announced the death of several militants.
In a statement released by the command on Wednesday, the US army confirmed that it launched an airstrike at Buloburde village in the Hiiraan region over the weekend, targeting Al-Shabaab militants who were attacking the federal troops during an operation.
"The command's initial assessment shows that 27 Al-Shabaab militants were killed and no civilian was injured," the command said in the statement, adding that, the "US army is authorized to conduct airstrikes in defense of designated partners."
The Somalia National Army was the first to report the airstrike on Monday while thanking the US for " being a true and strategic partner in the fight against terrorists". The offensive comes amid heightened operations in areas believed to be strongholds of the Al-Shabaab militants.
"This operation is the largest combined Somali and ATMIS offensive operation in five years," the command noted in the statement. "US Africa Command takes measures to prevent civilian casualties. The effort contrasts with indiscriminate Al-Shabaab attacks targeting civilians."
Further, the US maintains that Al-Shabaab militants are dangerous and could continue to destabilize the country. For Somalia to effectively deal with the menace, the US noted, it will continue to support operations against the militants who control huge swathes of rural central and southern Somalia.
General Odowaa Yusuf Rageh, Somalia's Chief of Defense Forces, said the operation in Hiiraan, Galgaduud, and Bay regions in the past week has left over 127 Al-Shabaab militants dead. Inspiringly, most locals have also taken arms against the militants in the affected areas.
There are close to 7,000 active Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia and the group is said to be keen to expand its territory through the recruitment of many fighters.
Besides the US Africa Command's support, Somalia is also relying on the African Union Transition Mission [ATMIS] soldiers to degrade the militants.