The US Department of Defense carried out the first airstrike against Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist militants in Somalia, 700 km north-east of Mogadishu, since President Joe Biden took office in January, New York Post reports.
The radical group Al-Shabaab, (Mujahideen Youth Movement) is waging an armed fight against the central government of Somalia – trying to overthrow Somalia’s government and obtain political control in the nation- and obstructing UN humanitarian activities.
Pentagon spokeswoman Cindi King informed that in co-ordination with the Somali government, the US military command for Africa (Africom) conducted today one air strike against Al Shabab in the vicinity of Galkayo, Somalia.
She emphasized that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this strike.
According to a Pentagon official, the strike was authorized under existing authorities to defend US partner forces and came even though no US troops were on the ground.
The strike is the first by the US military in Somalia since AFRICOM declared on January 19 that three Al-Shabaab extremists had been killed in two strikes in Jamaame and Deb Scinnele.
The United States has frequently carried out air strikes in Somalia against al Shaabab, with 63 airstrikes in 2019, 53 airstrikes in 2020 and another seven airstrikes in the first two-and-a-half weeks of 2021, before former US President Donald Trump left office.
According to the non-governmental group Airwars which monitors civilian deaths in bombings around the world, drone strikes in Somalia during Trump’s term in office multiplied from 11 in 2015 to 64 in 2019 and 54 in 2020.
Some 700 special forces soldiers stationed in Somalia to train and advise the Somali Army were ordered to withdraw before Trump left office.
As soon as he arrived at the White House, Biden limited the use of drones against militant groups outside US theatres of war, reversing Trump’s policy ofcarte blanche in countries such as Somalia and Libya.
Biden ordered a review of the policy on drone strikes and commando raids outside of conventional conflict zones as well as the imposition of temporary restrictions on such operations with Pentagon spokesman John Kirby saying in March that any planned strikes against militant groups outside of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq were now submitted to the White House before being carried out.