The US Military has confirmed carrying out one of its most lethal airstrike in the Southern Somalia, eliminating 52 Al-Shabab militants. It has also destroyed 4 vehicles that were loaded with explosives. The crackdown was carried out in response to a recent attack by a group of Al-Shabaab extremists against Somali National Army Forces on January 19, 2019.
Al Shadab, also known as Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen is a jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa. In 2012, it had pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda. However, soon some of the group’s leaders disagreed with Al-Qaeda and lost ground. It controls parts of rural Southern and Central Somalia and carries out suicide bombings and other attacks in the Capital, Mogadishu and elsewhere.
The U.S. forces attacked the militants near Jilib in Middle Juba region. However, no civilians or American soldiers were killed in the attack. For the records, the U.S. has approximately 500 troops in Somalia who are responsible for advisory roles.
The U.S. said it is committed to “preventing al-Shabab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia.”
There has been a significant increase in the number of airstrikes ever since the U.S. President, Donald Trump directed the U.S. military forces in March 2017 to come down heavily on Al-Shadab, in an attempt to support the Somali Government in its fight against terrorism. Prior to this, the U.S. Military led the airstrikes only in self-defence.
This is the 6th airstrike by U.S. in Somalia. Earlier in 2018, the U.S. executed 47 precision airstrikes against Al-Shabaab militants. In 2017 and 2016, it conducted 35 and 15 airstrikes respectively. As per the data of United States Department of Defense, there are 3000 to 7000 Al-Shabaab fighters and 70 to 250 ISIS fighters in Somalia.
Besides, in a separate move, Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for a recent terror attack that shocked Nairobi on January 15, 2019, killing atleast 21 innocent people.