The US launched an airstrike in southern Somalia on Sunday as part of an operation in collaboration with the Mogadishu-based government, Voice of America reported.
The US-backed government claimed the operation killed a senior al-Shabaab commander. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed the accuracy of the government’s report to VOA, a US-state-funded media outlet, although AFRICOM has not announced the strike in a press release.
The last declared US airstrike in Somalia took place in August, although the monitoring group Airwars reported several suspected US strikes in the country in September. Not every US airstrike in Somalia is reported by the military, as US operations in the country are shrouded in secrecy.
US airstrikes in Somalia escalated in 2022 after President Biden ordered the deployment of up to 500 troops to the country, and the Mogadishu-based government launched an offensive against al-Shabaab.
When the House debated a resolution to withdraw from Somalia earlier this year, lawmakers said there were 900 troops in the country. US troops on the ground in Somalia provide training for a special fighting force known as the Danab Brigade.
US operations in Somalia under Biden have not gotten as intense as they were during the Trump administration when the US bombed the country at a record pace.
The US military hypes the threat of al-Shabaab due to its size and al-Qaeda affiliation, but it’s widely believed the group does not have ambitions outside of Somalia.
Al-Shabaab was born out of a US-backed Ethiopian invasion in 2006 that toppled the Islamic Courts Union, a coalition of Muslim groups who briefly held power in Mogadishu after ousting CIA-backed warlords.
Al-Shabaab was the radical offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union. The group’s first recorded attack was 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.