US airstrike kills 24 Shabaab fighters at an ‘encampment’

The US military killed 24 fighters from al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa in an airstrike that targeted an “encampment” in central Somalia on Jan. 30. The strike is the ninth against Shabaab in 2019.

“U.S. forces conducted an airstrike near a terrorist encampment location in the vicinity of Shebeeley [Ceel Barde], Hiran Region, Somalia, on January 30, 2019,” US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced today. AFRICOM estimated that 24 Shabaab fighters and zero civilians were killed in the operation.

AFRICOM said the operation “is part of a larger effort to support the Somali National Army (SNA) as it increases pressure on the terrorist network and its recruiting efforts in the region.”

AFRICOM also acknowledged that Shabaab continues to operate “terrorist training camps” and “safe havens” in the country.

“In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists,” AFRICOM noted.

Yesterday’s strike was the second largest against Shabaab recorded this year. On Jan. 19, AFRICOM killed 52 Shabaab fighters as they attacked Somali forces near Jilib in southern Somalia.

The pace of strikes against Shabaab’s network in Somalia has intensified despite reports that the US military is seeking to disengage from the war-torn country. The US has launched nine strikes against Shabaab in Jan. 2019, 10 in Dec. 2018, and nine more in Nov. 2018, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.

The US and neighboring African countries have been battling Shabaab for more than a decade, yet maintains an effective insurgency, controls large rural areas in southern and central Somalia, and continues to threaten Somali cities and towns.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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