The United States military on Tuesday confirmed that it conducted airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend, resulting in the deaths of three Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabab militants.
The U.S. Africa Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany, stated that the strikes were carried out at the request of Somalia’s government in a remote area approximately 35 kilometres northeast of the port city of Kismayo on Sunday.
The statement did not disclose the identities of the targeted individuals, and no civilian casualties were reported.
Al-Shabab, the largest and most active al-Qaida network globally, has consistently posed a threat to U.S. forces and Washington’s security interests.
The militant group has been engaged in a 16-year insurgency against the Western-backed Somali government, supported by African Union peacekeeping troops.
Al-Shabab has also carried out significant extremist attacks in neighbouring Kenya, targeting AU peacekeeping forces that include Kenyan troops.
In 2020, the group overran a key U.S. counterterror military base on the Kenyan coast, resulting in casualties and destruction.
The multinational AU peacekeeping force is currently undergoing a phased withdrawal from Somalia, intending to transfer security responsibilities to Somali forces.
However, concerns persist about the readiness of Somali forces for this challenge. Last month, Somalia’s government welcomed the UN Security Council’s decision to lift the arms embargo imposed on the country over three decades ago, anticipating that it would contribute to the modernization of Somali forces.