US military operations in Africa continue to expand, with Africom airstrikes being carried out increasingly frequently in remote parts of countries like Somalia, killing alleged militants. The latest came Thursday, in southern Somalia.
Just outside the town of Jilib, Africom is reporting a US strike destroyed a vehicle, killing three within. As always, they claimed everyone killed was an al-Shabaab militant, and that no civilians were harmed.
These claims are problematic, because Africom shows little interest in identifying who was actually killed after the fact, and complaints of civilian deaths that often follow such US strikes don’t involve proper investigations, or often any investigations at all.
Increasingly lax rules of engagement across Africa give the Africom the ability to conduct more and more strikes with less and less accountability. That the US sees a growing number of “militant” hotbeds across Africa makes such strikes easy to sell to the leadership, though the fact that all the strikes are accomplishing is more hotbeds seems to be lost on the policymakers.
Either way, these strikes are happening with growing frequency, with Somalia clearly the main target for now, but US drone bases crossing up in Niger, and strikes conducted in places like southern Libya showing that this is really a continent-wide policy of escalation.