By: Harun Maruf , VOA NEWS
The U.S. military has reported two new airstrikes against al-Shabab fighters in Somalia’s Hirshabelle State.
In a statement, the U.S. military in Africa says it conducted two “collective self-defense” strikes against the group on December 14 and 17 in the vicinity of the coastal town of Adale.
The strikes came at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, and in support of the Somali National Army forces.
The first strike took place 176 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu, killing seven militants, while the second strike took place approximately 220 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu, killing eight al-Shabab fighters.
U.S. Africa Command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed in either strike, according to AFRICOM.
“U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of these operations and will provide additional information as appropriate,” read the statement.
“Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.”
The Somali government reported December 15 that it conducted an operation against al-Shabab in the vicinity of the Juhay and Gulane villages in the Hirshabelle State.
The government said that 88 al-Shabab fighters were killed in the 48-hour operation, which was conducted in collaboration with international partners, a phrase that often refers to the involvement of airstrikes by friendly countries supporting the Somali army.
On Friday, the government published purported photos and video clips of al-Shabab fighters killed in the operation. And Saturday, the Somali Ministry of Information reported that an al-Shabab commander identified as Yusuf Mohamed Jingab was among those killed in the operation. Claims of casualty figures by the Somali government have not yet been independently confirmed.
Somali government forces supported by local fighters have been conducting operations in the Hirshabelle and Galmudug states since August, freeing dozens of localities from al-Shabab.
Somali security officials said the United States is not the only country providing air support to government forces. Security officials who requested that they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the operation told VOA Somali late last month that Turkish drones were also providing air support to Somali forces.
Contacted by VOA Somali, the Turkish Ministry of Defense neither confirmed nor denied the participation of Turkish drones in the offensive against al-Shabab.
SOURCE: VOA NEWS