US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced three more strikes on Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, over the past two days. All three took place in Shabaab territory held by Shabaab. The US military has now announced a total of five attacks against Shabaab in the month of August.
From the AFRCOM press release:
Between August 16-17, the Department of Defense conducted a series of three (3) precision airstrikes against al-Shabaab militants, killing seven (7) fighters. The operation occurred in Jilib, Somalia, about 200 miles southwest of Mogadishu. The U.S. conducted this operation in coordination with Somali forces.
U.S. forces work closely with Somali military forces against al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train, and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in the United States.
The town of Jilib, where the three most recent attacks took place, is a region currently controlled by Shabaab. In the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, Foggy Bottom identified the town as one of “several villages and towns throughout Jubaland region, including Janaale, Jilib, and Kunyo Barow,” controlled by Shabaab.
AFRICOM released information on two other strikes this month; both took place on Aug. 11 near the Banadir region in southern Somalia. It is unclear if any senior Shabaab leaders or operates were killed in those raids.
Under the Trump administration, the US military has stepped up its targeting of Shabaab since the group gained ground in 2016. The US State Department attributed some of Shabaab’s gains “due largely to lapses in offensive counterterrorism operations during 2016.”
Last year, Shabaab attacks killed hundreds of African Union forces from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Ethiopia. These Shabaab assaults have forced African Union troops to withdraw from some cities and towns in southern Somalia, including one as recently as two weeks ago, when Shabaab took control of the town of Lego.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.