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21 Nov, 2017 19:23

US airstrikes in Somalia kill over 100 Al-Shabaab militants - AFRICOM

US airstrikes in Somalia kill over 100 Al-Shabaab militants - AFRICOM

US airstrikes in Somalia have killed more than 100 Al-Shabaab militants, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced. It is the biggest in a series of 29 airstrikes acknowledged by the Pentagon so far.

The airstrikes were carried out about 125 miles away from the capital city of Mogadishu at 10:30 am local time, the Pentagon said in a statement. The strike was done in coordination with Somalia's federal government.

The administration of President Donald Trump has given field commanders more authority to use force in combating terrorists. As a result, AFRICOM has been able to employ “precision airstrikes” in support of Somali and African Union troops (AMISOM), battling Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups. Previously, airstrikes were authorized only in self-defense of US forces.

The Pentagon has publicly acknowledged 29 airstrikes in Somalia this year. Seven of those strikes took place between November 9 and November 14.

Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group responsible for attacks across the country in an effort to depose the western-backed Federal Government of Somalia.

The US is not officially at war in Somalia. However, the Trump administration has recently expanded the clandestine operations that were launched by its predecessor. The US military presence in Somalia has continued to grow to 500 personnel from 200 reported in March 2017. Early in November, the US launched its first airstrikes against ISIS-linked fighters in Somalia.

A raid carried out by US special forces in August killed more than 10 civilians. In October, al-Shabaab militants carried out twin suicide bombings in Mogadishu, killing more than 300 people. It was the deadliest bombing attack in Somalia’s history. Somali officials suggested the attack was blowback for the US raid. Later the same month, al-Shabaab militants attacked a Mogadishu hotel, killing 23.

Somalia has been gripped by a perpetual cycle of drought, famine, and violence for decades. An estimated by the UN, 3.2 million people face “Crisis and Emergency” levels of food insecurity as a result of drought, internal displacement through conflict, and a sustained bombing campaign by al-Shabaab militants.

Currently, there are over 6,000 US troops stationed in a variety of African countries. More than a half of those are located in Djibouti, which borders Somalia.