STUTTGART, Germany — More than a dozen al-Qaida-linked militants were killed in separate airstrikes in Somalia, U.S. Africa Command said.
The strikes, which came at the request of Somalia’s government, hit on Dec. 14 and Dec. 17. The attacks killed 15 al-Shabab fighters who were battling government forces at two locations roughly 125 miles northeast of Mogadishu, AFRICOM said Sunday in a statement.
The command’s initial assessment was that no civilians were injured or killed in either strike.
American actions are undertaken to support Somalia’s ongoing campaign to disrupt terrorism, AFRICOM said in the statement.
Al-Shabab, with an estimated 5,000-7,000 fighters, is the largest terrorist group operating in Africa. For nearly 20 years it has sought to overthrow the country’s weak federal government and impose an extreme form of Sharia law on the country.
For the past several years, AFRICOM has focused on training Somali military forces to be more effective in their battle against the militant group, which has proved resilient despite American efforts.
The U.S. also has carried out airstrikes in the country on a somewhat routine basis over the years, although the pace of the strikes has slowed significantly in 2021 and 2022.
So far, about a dozen strikes against Shabab targets have been conducted this year, according to the Long War Journal, which tracks such attacks. By comparison, the U.S. launched 63 strikes in Somalia in 2020.
In 2021, President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. forces out of the country during the last days of his administration. Military officials later said the move hindered their ability to support Somalia’s military training needs.
In May, President Joe Biden ordered American trainers back into the country.
“Somalia remains key to the stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces will continue training, advising, and equipping partner forces to give them the tools that they need to defeat (Al-Shabab,)“ AFRICOM said in its statement.