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    Categories: Threat Matrix

US concentrates Somalian air campaign around Jilib

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft taxis on the flightline at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 19, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

US forces launched a strike yesterday that killed two members of Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, and wounded another fighter. The strike occurred in Jilib, a village south of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

The US has now conducted a total of six strikes in Somalia in 2018, all of which have targeted Shabaab, AFRICOM Media Relations Officer Samantha Reho told FDD’s Long War Journal. Strikes in 2018 have been concentrated in and around Jilib, including nearby Jamaame and an unspecific location 50 km northwest of Kismayo.

Over the decade-long air campaign, the plurality of American strikes have occurred in Jilib, a known haven for al Qaeda’s network in East Africa. According to the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism for 2016, Shabaab maintains a safe haven in the Jubba River Valley, and controls “several villages and towns throughout Jubaland region, including Janaale, Jilib, and Kunyo Barow.”

In 2017, US forces conducted a record 35 strikes in Somalia. The sharp increase in strikes in Somalia can be partly explained by AFRICOM’s expanded remit in Somalia. In late March, the Trump administration loosened restrictions on the US military to use force against Shabaab, following Department of State and Defense assessments of the enhanced Shabaab threat.

“The Department of Defense is fully committed to countering the threat of global terrorism, and will continue to support capable partners in the region,” added Reho.

Bill Roggio & Alexandra Gutowski :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.