US Africom Command said it launched an airstrike in Somalia on Friday against al-Shabaab in support of the US-backed Mogadishu-based government.
The strike took place near the central town of Galcad, about 162 miles northeast of Mogadishu, where al-Shabaab and the government were fighting on the ground. AFRICOM said the airstrike destroyed three vehicles and killed “approximately” 30 al-Shabaab fighters.
The command insisted no civilians were harmed based on “the remote location of the fighting.” But the Pentagon is notorious for undercounting or lying about civilian casualties, and US operations in Somalia are shrouded in secrecy as there is barely any media coverage of the war.
Also on Friday, al-Shabaab attacked a military base near the town, killing seven government soldiers. The Somali government said that it captured the town and claimed 100 al-Shabaab members were killed in the fighting.
Friday’s operation marked the first known US airstrike in Somalia in 2023. The US has ramped up its airstrikes in the country since President Biden ordered the deployment of up to 500 troops to Somalia last May.
AFRICOM claimed that Friday’s strike was carried out in “collective self-defense,” using language that allows action under President Biden’s counterterrorism policy. Under the rules, strikes outside of Syria and Iraq need White House approval unless they can be framed in self-defense of US or partner forces. Strikes could also be justified if they target a person on a kill list that’s approved by the president.