The US launched an airstrike against al-Shabaab in a remote region of Somalia on Sunday, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said.
AFRICOM said its “initial assessment” found that the strike killed two al-Shabaab fighters and claimed no civilians were harmed, although the Pentagon is notorious for under-counting civilian casualties, especially in Somalia where US operations are shrouded in secrecy.
The strike came after President Biden ordered the deployment of up to 500 US troops to Somalia back in May. Sunday’s bombing marked the second US airstrike AFRICOM reported in Somalia since Biden signed the order. The last reported strike AFRICOM took credit for in the country took place on June 3.
While Biden appears to be ramping up the US war in Somalia, airstrikes in the country have significantly declined under his administration. Since Biden took office in January 2021, AFRICOM has announced seven airstrikes in Somalia, compared with 52 in 2020.
US operations in Somalia are justified by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), even though al-Shabaab didn’t exist when the AUMF was passed. Al-Shabaab first surfaced in 2006 and didn’t declare loyalty to al-Qaeda until 2012 after years of battling the US and its proxies, including a US-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.