US forces killed more than 100 Shabaab fighters in an airstrike conducted 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu, Somalia earlier today. The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) press release described the location as a “Shabaab camp.”
AFRICOM has targeted Shabaab camps at least twice previously. In March 2016, US warplanes hit the “Raso Camp” in the town of Raso in Bulobarde province, nearly 100 miles north of Mogadishu. Press reports claimed that 150 Shabaab fighters were killed, but the al Qaeda branch denied it gathered “100 fighters in one spot for security reasons.” In Sept. 2017, AFRICOM claimed it launched a “self defense strike” as US and African Union forces assaulted a Shabaab training camp in the town of Caba near the southern city of Kismayo. Four Shabaab fighters were believed to have been killed.
November was already the most active month of the US air campaign in the country. AFRICOM has targeted Shabaab’s network eight times this month, according to statements released by military command.
The spike in attacks against Shabaab is a result the Trump administration’s loosening of restrictions on the US military to use force against Shabaab earlier this year. The Departments of Defense and State both noted that Shabaab has become more lethal and dangerous. Shabaab has killed hundreds of African Union and Somali forces while overrunning bases in southern Somalia and has maintained its safe havens while expanding areas under its control during 2016.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Alexandra Gutowski is a military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.