Four al-Shabab militants are presumed dead after a series of airstrikes launched by U.S. forces in Somalia, U.S. Africa Command announced Wednesday.
The strikes, launched Tuesday, were in response to an attack on Somali forces near Beledweyne, according to a release.
“The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties,” the release said, indicating that there were no civilians killed or injured. “These efforts contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabab regularly conducts against the civilian population.”
AFRICOM has in the past been accused by groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of killing civilians in strikes, despite the command claiming otherwise.
The latest strikes were the second in the past few weeks, as U.S. troops settle back into regular rotations to Somalia.
The Biden administration announced in May that several hundred service members would return to the country, overturning a Trump administration decision to pull all troops out in December 2020.
While strikes continued from abroad, AFRICOM leaders openly urged the Biden administration to let troops operate in Somalia, where the U.S. military has a close relationship with local forces, and where al-Shabab ― al-Qaida’s largest and most well-funded affiliated ― continues to terrorize.
“And I think that our job is to provide indications of warning and disrupt those threats, so they don’t become a problem to Western interests or U.S. interests, globally, and in the homeland,” retired Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, who transferred authority over AFRICOM to Marine Gen. Michael Langley on Monday, told Military Times in July. “So I think we have the resources about right to do that. Would I like to have more resources to do that? Absolutely.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.