The United States has conducted 36 strikes in Yemen in 2018, roughly a quarter of last year’s record high of 131 strikes.
Since the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) began tracking district control three years ago, Afghan government controlled or influenced districts has declined 16% to 55.5%. In the same period, insurgent control/influence rose 5.5% and contested districts increased 11%.
Some 41 percent of the Afghan population resides in a contested district and more than nine percent reside in a Taliban controlled district, according to a new study by FDD’s Long War Journal.
Kunyo Barrow, where the most recent strike took place, is located in the Jubba River Valley, a stronghold of the al Qaeda affiliate.
A large concentration of Shabaab fighters a significant distance from its typical support zone in Jubba River Valley demonstrates the Al Qaeda affiliate’s resilience across Somalia.
This is the third time in the past month that US forces have conducted defensive airstrikes following Shabaab attacks.
The United States has conducted 24 strikes in Somalia in 2018, all of which have targeted Shabaab. The strike occurred near a town that was liberated by Somali forces just two days ago.
In response, the United States conducted a defensive airstrike which killed 18 terrorists. The United States has conducted a total of 23 strikes against Shabaab in Somalia in 2018.
US Africa Command targeted a Shabaab fighting position outside of Mogadishu after the al Qaeda branch attacked US and Somali forces operating in the area.
The New York Times map compares assessments from the US military and FDD’s Long War Journal on Taliban controlled and contested districts in Afghanistan.
The United States has conducted a total of 34 strikes in Yemen in 2018, all of which targeted Al Qaeda barring one strike against the Islamic State in Jan. 2018. However the military is not likely to top last year’s high.
The United States has conducted 21 strikes against Shabaab in Somalia so far this year, meaning it is on track to meet or exceed last year’s record high.
This is the first strike since early June, when the United States targeted both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in separate strikes in Bani Walid.
The strike is the second against Shabaab, which is al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, in Somalia that has been reported by U.S. Africa Command this month.
In addition to Ajristan and Khwaja Umar, the districts of Nawur, Jaghatu, and Deh Yak have fallen to the Taliban. Meanwhile, Resolute Support has intentionally misled the the public about the status of seven of Ghazni’s districts. Resolute Support claimed these districts were under government control; in reality the Taliban physically controlled the terrain while the Afghan government operated the government remotely from Ghazni City.
AFRICOM noted that Shabaab, which is al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, continues to maintain “training camps” and “safe havens throughout Somalia and the region.”
Resolute Support continues to invent new terminology to obfuscate the extent of Taliban control in Afghanistan.
In 2017, LWJ reported unprecedented levels of airstrikes in Somalia and Yemen. Thus far in 2018, the United States has sustained its high strike tempo in Somalia and improved transparency on its air campaign in Yemen. Strikes in Pakistan have leveled off, however press restrictions make tracking operations there difficult. In Libya, the U.S. has targeted jihadists sparingly.
CENTCOM released the dates and general locations of the last 18 counterterrorism strikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Since early 2017, the military has provided few details on the Yemen air campaign, typically only providing an aggregate number and scant information on high-value target strikes.
A strike that far north, particularly with such a high casualty count, demonstrates the alarming geographic span of Shabaab’s insurgency in the country. In 2018, the US has hit Shabaab targets nearly 1,000 miles apart.
On Wednesday, US forces conducted an airstrike 15 miles southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu against al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa.
The US military has conducted 27 counterterrorism strikes in Yemen in 2018, but has only provided complete information on two. One of the strikes hit an AQAP training camp in Hadramout.
The Taliban continue to maintain its grip on half of Afghanistan despite US military’s reinvigorated effort to force the group from its strongholds.
In the past six months, US forces have thrice interdicted Shabaab car bombs and prevented imminent attacks against civilians in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu.
The Afghanistan watchdog was finally able to release the military’s own district-level assessment, allowing for a direct comparison with our data. The Taliban currently controls 37 districts, contests 200, and claims to control two more.
The United States attacked al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia in the southern town of Jilib, a recurring strike location and known Shabaab safe haven.
The location of last weekend’s strike highlights the geographical range of US operations against Shabaab, and the scope of the al Qaeda branch’s insurgency.
The US military announced that it killed Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leader in Libya, in an airstrike last weekend. Dawud is an established jihadist who has been in the fight with the GSPC and AIQM for at least three decades.
US forces conducted nine strikes in Somalia this year, all of which have targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in the country.
The US military has launched 22 airstrikes against al Qaeda int he Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State’s Yemeni branch, a spokesman told FDD’s Long War Journal.