The US military bombed Somalia on Tuesday, marking the first official US airstrike in the country of the Biden administration. The Pentagon said the strike targeted al-Shabaab and confirmed the bombing with several media outlets.
“The Department of Defense can confirm that in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US Africa Command forces conducted one airstrike against al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Galkayo, Somalia, today,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia King said, according to Task & Purpose.
King said that the Pentagon’s “initial assessment” found that no civilians were killed in the strike. The US almost always claims no civilians are killed by its operations in Somalia, but whenever journalists or human rights organizations make it to the scene of a US airstrike in the country, they tell a much different story.
The last time AFRICOM bombed Somalia was on January 19th, President Trump’s last full day in office. As part of a review of US drone wars by the new administration, the Pentagon is required to get approval from the White House to carry out airstrikes or raids outside of Afghanistan, Syria, or Iraq. So it’s possible that President Biden personally signed off on Tuesday’s airstrike.
King said that no US troops were on the ground during the operation. “There were no US forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. US forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces,” she said.
The Trump administration withdrew nearly all of the 700 troops that were stationed in Somalia and redeployed them in East Africa. Djibouti and Kenya host US drones that carry out airstrikes in Somalia.
While Trump pulled troops out of Somalia, his administration sent them there in the first place and significantly escalated the drone war. In 2017, the US escalation in Somalia started with a deployment of a few dozen soldiers, the first time regular US troops were sent to the country in decades.
The Trump administration loosened the rules of engagement in Somalia, leading to a record number of bombs being dropped on the country. In 2020 alone, the Trump administration bombed Somalia more than George W. Bush and Barack Obama combined.