A U.S. airstrike targeting Al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab conducted on Friday, December 15, killed eight people, the U.S. military’s Africa Command said in a statement.
“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab militants in the early evening hours on Friday, Dec. 15, approximately 30 miles northwest of Kismayo, killing eight (8) terrorists and destroying one vehicle,” the Monday, December 18 statement said, adding that Africom assessed “no civilians were killed in the strike.”
The strike is the latest in an increasing number of airstrikes against the al-Shabaab and Abnaa ul-Calipha, Islamic State’s affiliate in Somalia. Three days earlier, on December 12, a U.S. airstrike targeted an al-Shabaab car bomb near Mubarak, 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Mogadishu. On November 27, Africom targeted Abnaa ul-Calipha in northeastern Somalia. A week earlier, the command said an airstrike killed more than 100 al-Shabaab militants 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu. On November 15, Africom said a drone strike about 60 miles north Mogadishu killed “several” al-Shabaab militants. Four days earlier, Africom said it struck al-Shabaab in the Bay region, about 100 miles west of Mogadishu.
US suspends some military aid
The latest airstrike was carried out a day after as it was revealed that U.S. military support for much of Somalia’s armed forces was being suspended over concerns about corruption.
A U.S. State Department official confirmed to The Defense Post that aid was being “adjusted.”
“We can confirm that we are adjusting U.S. assistance to Somali National Army (SNA) units, with the exception of units receiving some form of mentorship, to ensure that U.S. assistance is being used effectively and for its intended purpose, while Somali security units that are fighting al-Shabaab continue to receive appropriate assistance,” the official said in an email.
“U.S. assistance continues to SNA units that are actively engaged in the fight against terrorists and receiving some form of mentorship from U.S. military or third-party implementers.”
The official said that the “pause” in assistance to non-mentored units reflects an agreement between the United States and Somalia’s government to develop new criteria for SNA units to receive U.S. aid.
Clarifying the ‘mentored’ units that will continue to receive assistance, an Africom official told The Defense Post on Monday, December 18 that “the most significant element of our partnership is the advise and assist mission where U.S. troops enable Somali and AMISOM forces to conduct successful tactical operations and build an enduring, professional force. In some instances, the U.S. may also provide intelligence and training support to our partner forces.”