WASHINGTON – The United States launched a drone strike against Al Shabab fighters in Somalia this week, the first military action against the Qaeda affiliate in East Africa since AugustThe army’s Africa Command said on Thursday.
Tuesday’s MQ-9 Reaper attack followed a Shabab attack on Somali allied forces in Duduble, about 40 kilometers northwest of the capital Mogadishu, the commander said in a statement. Father.
The command said it was still trying to determine how many Shabab insurgents were killed in the attack, but it said no civilians were believed to be harmed.
When the Biden administration took office in January 2021, it set new limits on drone strikes outside of active war zones. to develop a long-term policy. While the Trump administration has laid out broad rules for strikes in specific countries and empowered field commanders about when to take them, proposals for current strikes often transferred to the White House.
But in this case, as in the four previous attacks since President Biden took office, no White House approval is needed because Africa Command has the authority to conduct force-support strikes. allies in what the military calls collective self-defense.
A spokesman for Africa Command said there were no US forces accompanying the Somali forces in the operation. Instead, US forces are advising and supporting the Somali force’s mission from a remote location, but the official did not say where.
By order of President Donald J. Trump, most of the 700 US troops stationed in Somalia to advise and support Somali military and counterterrorism forces were withdrawn during the waning weeks of his administration and sent to Kenya and nearby Djibouti.
Mr. Biden and his advisers are about to make a decision on a Pentagon-backed proposal to reinstate some troops in Somalia as a way to improve training and coordination with Somali security forces. Right now, US coaches visit the country periodically.
American commanders have said that the lack of regular presence of trainers along with political instability in Somalia has allowed Shabab to rise sharply.
“I think in East Africa, I think in Somalia in particular, Al Shabab is taking advantage of the political leadership there being distracted by a protracted political crisis,” said General Stephen J. Townsend, who stands. head of Africa Command, said recently. “While that was going on, the pressure was off on Al Shabab.”
During a visit to Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya last week“Al Shabab remains the largest, richest and most dangerous branch of Al Qaeda,” he added.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/us/politics/somalia-shabab-us-airstrike.html US conducts first air strike in Somalia since August