The last three strikes against Shabaab have taken place in an area where foreign al Qaeda fighters have historically sheltered. AFRICOM has targeted Shabaab 40 times throughout Somalia in 2018.
The US military hit al Qaeda’s branches in Somalia and Libya twice over the past several days, killing 20 fighters in strikes that appear to have targeted the groups’ military capacity.
The US military has launched six airstrikes in the central Somali province of Mudug since Nov. 19, killing at least 55 Shabaab fighters.
The US military is clearly targeting Shabaab in Mudug province. There have been five strikes there in the past four days and 50 Shabaab fighters are reported to have been killed in the attacks.
The pattern of the strikes, which took place in central Somalia, indicates that al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa either has an established base in the area, or that it was massing its fighters for a large scale attack.
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.
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.
Al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa “still maintained control over large portions of the country” and “retained the ability to carry out high-profile attacks” in 2017 despite increased targeting by the US military, the African Union, and the Somali government.