The U.S. military said that an airstrike killed 13 Islamist fighters belonging to the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia over the weekend.
In what was called a “collective self-defense” airstrike, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced that it had taken out the militants in the “vicinity of Seiera, Somalia, approximately 45 kilometers northwest of Kismayo,” according to a statement from the command.
The strike was carried out in the early morning of August 26 in support of Somali National Army forces who were engaged by the al-Shabaab terrorists.
“Working with the Somali National Army, U.S. Africa Command’s initial assessment is that the airstrike killed 13 al Shabaab fighters and that no civilians were injured or killed,” AFRICOM said. “The command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.”
“The U.S. considers al-Shabab the largest and most kinetically active al-Qaida network in the world. Al-Shabab merged with al-Qaida in February 2012,” according to the Voice of America.
“Al-Shabaab, al-Qaida’s largest, wealthiest and most deadly affiliate, which has murdered thousands of people in Somalia and the region, including Americans, operates with impunity in a significant portion of Somalia’s territory. It commits various crimes like extortion and smuggling to fund its armed insurgency, terror attacks, and administration,” according to the U.S. State Department.
The group “has proved both its will and capability to attack partner and U.S. forces and threaten security interests in the region,” AFRICOM said.
“Somalia remains key to the security environment in East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces train, advise, and equip partner forces to give them the tools that they need to degrade al Shabaab’s terrorist operations,” AFRICOM stated. “U.S. Africa Command takes great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote a more secure and stable Africa.”
According to its website, “U.S. Africa Command supports African governments by helping build capacity in their armed forces, which are necessary for a government to counter violent extremists and respond to crisis. By providing security and safety for its people, African governments can assure citizens’ access to education, work, and healthcare, to name a few. Our support to African armed forces includes training, exercises, equipment sales and several other security cooperation efforts to help develop militaries and build relationships. Each of these efforts emphasizes African militaries respect to civilian governments, the law of war, and human rights.”
“A full-spectrum combatant command, U.S. Africa Command is responsible for all U.S. Department of Defense operations, exercises, and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters,” the site notes. “The area of responsibility consists of 53 African states, more than 800 ethnic groups, over 1,000 languages, vast natural resources, a land mass of 11.2 million square miles (three-and-a-half times the size of the U.S.), and nearly 19,000 miles of coastland, the command states on its website. It began initial operations in October 2007 and was fully operational in October 2008.
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