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.