The US launched airstrikes in Somalia on Tuesday against al-Shabaab, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said on Wednesday.
AFRICOM said in a press release that three airstrikes were launched in Beledweyne, Somalia, in support of the US-backed Somali government that’s based in Mogadishu. AFRICOM claimed that its “initial assessment” found four al-Shabaab fighters were killed and that no civilians were harmed.
But the Pentagon is notorious for undercounting civilian casualties, especially in Somalia, where US operations are shrouded in secrecy. The incident marks the second US bombing in Somalia within one month, signaling the US might be escalating its drone war in the East African nation.
Back in May, President Biden ordered the deployment of up to 500 troops to Somalia, reversing a drawdown carried out at the end of the Trump administration. The Trump-era withdrawal repositioned US forces in neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, enabling the US to continue the drone war despite a smaller presence in Somalia.
US military leaders hype al-Shabaab as a threat to the US due to its size and al-Qaeda affiliation. But the group’s first recorded attacks were in 2007, and it wasn’t until 2012 that al-Shabaab pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda after years of fighting the US and its proxies, including a US-backed Ethiopian invasion that was launched in 2006.