Shabaab has claimed a number of attacks in recent days across southern Somalia, including briefly recapturing the strategic town of Balad just north of Mogadishu.
Khattab al Masri, a foreign fighter who sided with Omar Hammami during his dispute with Shabaab, reconciled with the terrorist group and was killed while fighting Ethiopian forces in 2016.
Strikes in 2018 have been concentrated in and around the town of Jilib, whihc has been identified as a Shabaab safe haven.
The coordinated suicide bombings and subsequent assaults are the first major attack of its kind to hit Mogadishu this year.
US Africa Command confirmed today that US forces took part “in an advisory capacity” in a Somali-led raid on an “indoctrination center” operated by Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa. Five people, some of whom were “under the age of 18,” were killed in the Jan. 18 operation. 30 other “male children” were freed.
The operation occurred approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Kismayo, the site of another recent airstrike.
One of the leaders “planned” the March 2015 Bardo Museum attack in Tunis, which was claimed by the Islamic State. Another serves as Shabaab’s deputy emir.
In the first strike of 2018, US forces have again halted an imminent car bomb attack intended for Somalia’s capital.