The US launched an airstrike in Somalia on September 18, US Africa Command said on Wednesday, as the Biden administration continues to escalate its war against al-Shabaab.
According to AFRICOM, the strike was done in support of the Mogadishu-based government and killed 27 al-Shabaab fighters. AFRICOM claimed no civilians were killed in the strike, but the Pentagon is notorious for undercounting civilian casualties, especially in Somalia, where its operations are shrouded in secrecy.
The strike was launched near the village of Buulobarde in the central Hiiraan region. AFRICOM said that the bombing allowed the Somali National Army and the African Union’s Transition Mission in Somalia (AUTMIS) regain momentum for an offensive they launched against al-Shabaab.
“This operation is the largest combined Somali and ATMIS offensive operation in five years,” AFRICOM said. The US-backed Somali forces claimed in comments to Voice of America that they killed over 100 al-Shabaab fighters over the weekend and recaptured several villages in the Hiiraan region.
Over the past few months, the US has escalated its war in Somalia after President Biden ordered the redeployment of up to 500 troops to the east African nation. The last known US airstrikes in Somalia took place on August 14, which AFRICOM said killed 13 al-Shabaab fighters.
The US military portrays al-Shabaab as a major threat due to its affiliation with al-Qaeda. But the group was born out of a US-backed Ethiopian invasion that was launched in 2006, and al-Shabaab didn’t declare loyalty to al-Qaeda until 2012, after years of fighting the US and its proxies.