The US launched an airstrike against al-Shabaab in Somalia on Tuesday, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said on Wednesday. It marks the first US bombing of Somalia reported by AFRICOM in 2022.
AFRICOM said it conducted the strike in a remote location near Duduble, Somalia, in support of the US-backed government. The Somali military said its special forces, known as the Danab, killed 60 al-Shabaab fighters on Tuesday in operations in several areas in the Hiran region, including in Duduble.
AFRICOM said its “initial assessment” found no civilian casualties in its airstrike, but as recent reporting has shown, the Pentagon is notorious for undercounting civilian casualties. When it comes to Somalia, whenever journalists make it to the scene of a US airstrike, they usually find that civilians were killed.
The last US airstrike in Somalia that was reported by AFRICOM was conducted on August 24th, 2021. AFRICOM now declares almost all of its strikes in Somalia, but the CIA also conducts drone strikes and raids in the country in secret, so it’s tough to know how active the US is in the war against al-Shabaab.
AFRICOM cited the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) that was passed after the September 11th attacks as the justification for Tuesday’s strike. Al-Shabaab didn’t exist at the time, but after years of fighting the US and its proxies, the group declared loyalty to al-Qaeda in 2012, giving Washington the excuse it needs to invoke the 2001 AUMF.