SAN DIEGO: American forces, in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, conducted a military air strike in self-defense against al-Shabab militants, the U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) stated. The September 21st strike was undertaken after U.S. and Somali partner ground forces came under attack by al- Shabab.
U.S. AFRICOM forces engage al-Shabab.
According to an AP report, militant fighters were “observed maneuvering on a combined patrol,” while the U.S. engaged their attackers with “indirect fire,” a military spokesman said. U.S. forces and allies targeted the strike 50km northwest of Kismayo, in Somalia’s Lower Juba Province. U.S. AFRICOM assessed eighteen (18) terrorists killed in the strike. Somali forces killed two other terrorists with small arms fire during the confrontation.
“No U.S. or Somali forces were killed or wounded in the attack,” said AFRICOM spokesman, Nate Herring, as reported by the AP. No civilians were injured or killed as a result of the air strike.
This follows a series of air strikes targeting al-Shabab, an al-Qa’ida affiliated terrorist group. On September 11 in Mubaraak, a Somali village, the U.S. conducted an air strike during a Somali partner-led operation. Additionally, Somali forces killed two (2) terrorists and wounded one (1), said AFRICOM.
American forces work with Somali National Security Forces and peace-keeping partners to disable terror threats.
U.S. AFRICOM became fully operational capable on Oct. 1, 2008. A full-spectrum combatant command, US AFRICOM is responsible for all U.S. Department of Defense operations, exercises, and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations and surrounding waters.
The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) comprises the first central government in Somalia since the collapse of the Somali Democratic Republic. FGS replaced the interim mandate of the Transitional Federal Government on August 20, 2012. The international community recognizes FGS.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is an active, regional peacekeeping mission. It operates under the African Union with the approval of the United Nations in Somalia. AMISOM supports FGS’ forces in their battle against al-Shabab militants. Other mandates include creating security for humanitarian aid to the poor, displaced, and needy.
Al-Shabab has been fighting to overthrow the U.N.-backed government for over a decade, conducting lethal attacks with bombs and guns.
The Council of Foreign relations stated the following.
“Continued al-Shabab attacks and influence threaten to undermine the United States’ primary interest in Somalia, which has been preventing the country from becoming a refuge for terrorist groups to radicalize members, plot attacks on the United States, and potentially destabilize the strategically significant Horn of Africa.”
The lethality of al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab means ‘The Youth’ in Arabic. These radical Islamic militants link to the following as stated in this sobering BBC News report from December 2017:
“Somalia’s government blamed it [al-Shabab] for the killing of at least 500 people in a huge truck bombing in the capital Mogadishu in October 2017. It was East Africa’s deadliest bombing. Al-Shabab, however, did not claim responsibility for it.”
“It did confirm carrying out a massive attack on a Kenyan military base in Somalia’s el-Ade town in January 2016, killing, according to Somalia’s then-President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, about 180 soldiers. The Kenyan military disputed the number, but refused to give a death toll.”
“It has also staged several attacks in Kenya, including the 2015 massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University, near the border with Somalia.”
“A total of 148 people died when gunmen stormed the university at dawn and targeted Christian students.”
“In 2013, its gunmen stormed the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, resulting in a siege which left at least 67 people dead.”
“During the 2010 football World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, it bombed a rugby club and a restaurant in Uganda’s capital Kampala, killing 74 people watching the match.”
Children recruited for terror in Somalia.
According to a January 2017 Associated Press report,
“… the U.N. chief [Antonio Guterres] said al-Shabab used children in combat, with nine-year-olds reportedly taught to use weapons and sent to front lines. Children were also used to transport explosives, work as spies, carry ammunition or perform domestic chores, he said.”
Additionally, other Somali groups recruit and use children according to the report.
Nonetheless, Secretary-General Guterres said he is “deeply troubled by the scale and nature of grave violations against children in Somalia and their increase since 2015.”
In addition, the Secretary-General urged groups to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law. He also urged them to stop committing violations against children.
Under President Trump’s expanded mandate to fight al-Shabab, AFRICOM notes,
“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terror threats.”
With counterterrorism partners, U.S. forces are ready to support. Also on the AFRICOM radar are the terrorist training camps and safe havens scattered throughout Somalia and the region.
Featured Image: US AFRICOM forces - African Union troops react to gunfire during an ambush from al Shabab militants during an offensive on March 22 by AMISOM to take the town of Qoryooley, Somalia, from the extremist group. AU UN IST PHOTO / Tobin Jones, By AMISOM Public Information - Flickr, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41443225