JOHANNESBURG – The US military struck a base belonging to the jihadist group al-Shabaab in Somalia, in the first air offensive attack over the Horn of Africa country since US President Donald Trump authorised aerial offensives in March.
“On June 11, at approximately 2am eastern daylight time, the Department of Defence conducted a strike operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia,” said Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson in a statement.
“The US conducted this operation in coordination with its regional partners as a direct response to al-Shabaab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces.”
Eight al-Shabaab militants were killed in the strike that occurred almost 300 kilometres south-west of the capital Mogadishu.
White explained that the airstrike was carried out under the new authorities approved by Trump in March, which “allows the US Department of Defence to conduct legal action against al-Shabaab within a geographically-defined area of active hostilities in support of partner force in Somalia."
“We remain committed to working with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al-Shabaab, and help achieve stability and security throughout the region,” said White.
“US forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to protect Americans, including partnered military counter-terror operations with AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) forces; precision strikes against terrorists, their training camps and safe havens; and hunting and tracking members of this al-Qaeda affiliate throughout Somalia, the region and around the world,” said the Africom statement.
Currently, approximately 50 American personnel are based in Somalia advising and assisting the Somali military in the fight against al-Shabaab.
In May, American Navy Seal Kyle Milliken became the first American military service member to be killed in Somalia since 1993 when the Somali unit he was advising came under attack during a mission.
Americans have bitter memories of "The Battle of Mogadishu" or "Day of the Rangers" fought on October 3-4 1993, in Mogadishu, between forces of the United States—supported by UNOSOM II—and Somali militiamen loyal to the self-proclaimed president-to-be Mohamed Farrah Aidid, who had support from armed civilian fighters.
During the operation, two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by RPGs and three others were damaged.
The fighting left 18 American soldiers dead and 73 wounded while 312 Somali militiamen were killed and 814 wounded.
African News Agency