On August 10, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced that it had carried out three airstrikes against terrorists of al-Qaeda-affiliated Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen who attacked Somali National Army Forces near the town of Beledweyne, which is located some 330 kilometers to the north of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
The initial assessment of the command is that the airstrikes, which took place on August 9, killed four terrorists of al-Shabaab and that no civilians were wounded or killed.
“The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. remain committed to fighting al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians,” the command said in a statement.
AFRICOM has in the past been accused by human rights groups of killing civilians in airstrikes, despite the command claiming otherwise.
The latest strikes were the second to hit terrorists in Somalia in the past few weeks. On July 17, a US airstrike killed two terrorists of al-Shabaab near the town of Libikus. No civilian casualties were reported back then.
Al-Shabaab has been leading an insurgency against Somalia’s federal government for more than 15 years now. The group’s terrorists were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 by an African Union force with limited military involvement from the US.
In May, the Biden administration announced that several hundred US service members would return to Somalia, overturning a Trump administration decision to pull all troops out in December 2020.