The Biden administration is escalating airstrikes in Somalia after a long pause in the US drone war against al-Shabaab. The US bombed Somalia on Sunday, the third time in less than two weeks and the third official airstrike in the country of Biden’s presidency.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a press release that the airstrike was conducted near Qeycad, Somalia, on August 1st. The US-backed Somali government said the airstrike “destroyed a large al-Shabaab firing position” that was engaged with members of Danab, a Somali commando force trained by the US.
The press release said AFRICOM’s “initial” assessment found “no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.” AFRICOM almost always claims there are no civilian casualties in its airstrikes in Somalia, but the Pentagon is notorious for undercounting civilian deaths. And whenever journalists make it to the scene of a US airstrike in Somalia, they usually find that civilians were killed.
The first airstrike in Somalia under Biden was carried out on July 20th. Before that, the last time AFRICOM reported a strike in the country was on January 19th, President Trump’s last full day in office. Trump significantly escalated the air war in Somalia and dropped a record number of bombs on the country.
During his final months in office, Trump withdrew nearly all of the 700 troops that were stationed in Somalia. But they were redeployed in East Africa, and most of the US drones that bomb Somalia are based in neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, so the air war can continue. Now the head of AFRICOM is pitching the Biden administration on sending troops back to Somalia.