US Kills 8 al-Shabab Fighters in 2 Airstrikes Amid Troop Reduction in Somalia
WASHINGTON - The U.S. military killed eight al-Shabab fighters and wounded two others in airstrikes Thursday in Somalia, Lt. Cmdr. Christina Gibson, U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman, told VOA.
“We will continue to apply pressure to the al-Shabab network. They continue to undermine Somali security, and need to be contained and degraded,” Africa Command (AFRICOM) head Gen. Stephen Townsend added in a statement announcing the strikes.
The AFRICOM statement said two strikes in the vicinity of Jilib targeted terrorists “who were known to play important roles in producing explosives for al-Shabab, to include vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.”
The al-Qaida-affiliated terror group conducts dozens of car bombings across Somalia each year, including against citizens, government and American targets.
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According to AFRICOM, al-Shabab has conducted about 45 vehicle-borne bombings in the capital of Mogadishu alone since 2018, collectively resulting in the death of more than 400 people.
The Command assessed that no civilians were injured or killed in the strikes.
The strikes come just days after President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to remove the majority of the 700 U.S. military troops stationed in Somalia.
A Pentagon statement issued late last week said these troops would be leaving “by early 2021.” Officials have said most of those troops will be repositioned in Kenya and Djibouti to continue the fight against al-Shabab.
“Al-Shabab remains a dangerous franchise of al-Qaida,” said Townsend in the announcement Thursday. “This mission illustrates our continuing commitment to eradicating this threat and supporting our Somali partners in the region. We're repositioning, but we will maintain the ability to strike this enemy.”