The U.S. military carried out an airstrike in Somalia that resulted in the deaths of 35 extremists on Monday, according to the U.S. Africa Command (Africom).
The Sunday airstrike targeted members of Al-Shabaab, a Somalian extremist group loyal to al-Qaeda, while they were repositioning themselves.
Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, Africom Director of Operations, said, “In the case of this strike, we interrupted an Al Shabaab attempt to mass their forces.”
Olson explained that this strike was intended to keep the terrorists from getting organized to carry out a future attack against “our partners and to the people of Somalia.”
Uptick in Airstrikes
President Donald Trump, while reducing the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, has increased the number of precision airstrikes targeting terrorists.
Last year alone, the United States conducted 47 airstrikes in Somalia, a significant increase over the last administration.
And in just two months this year, the U.S. has conducted 20 airstrikes against Somalia’s al-Shabaab terrorists.
While these airstrikes help, they will not completely rid the area of al-Shabaab on their own.
Al-Shabaab entrenched in Somalia
Like al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, al-Shabaab jihadis are formidable foes and have entrenched themselves in the area.
The United States still needs the help of the local Somali National Army to do their job on the ground.
Earlier in February, the outgoing U.S. Africom commander told Congress, “At the end of the day these strikes are not going to defeat al-Shabaab, but they are going to provide the opportunity for the federal government and the Somali National Army to grow and assume the security of that country.”
Even though Al-Shabaab forces have taken heavy losses, they are still carrying out devastating attacks.
As you may recall, this is the group that is widely suspected of having carried out the October 2017 truck bombing that was responsible for the deaths of more than 500 people.