A U.S. airstrike killed an estimated 13 al-Shabab militants in Somalia on Sunday, according to a U.S. Africa Command news release Wednesday.
The airstrike is the seventh such attack against the Islamic militant group confirmed by AFRICOM in 2022. All but one of this year’s strikes have been launched since May, when President Joe Biden authorized the military to deploy hundreds of special operations forces to Somalia.
Biden’s order reversed former former President Donald Trump’s late-presidency withdrawal of the counterinsurgency forces that had been stationed in the country for more than a decade.
The United States launched Sunday’s airstrike in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, the fragile central government that is at war with al-Shabab.
The targets were militants who were “actively attacking” Somali National Army forces near the remote village of Teedaan, nearly 200 miles north of Mogadishu, according to the news release.
Sunday’s attack brings the number of al-Shabab fighters killed in U.S. airstrikes this year to an estimated 27, according to AFRICOM news releases. It comes days after an airstrike on Aug. 9 left a presumed four al-Shabab fighters dead.
AFRICOM has reported no civilian deaths resulting from airstrikes against al-Shabab this year, including in Sunday’s attack. But in 2020, human rights groups accused AFRICOM of not reporting civilian deaths from its airstrikes.
Though there has been a noticeable increase in the number of strikes in Somalia since U.S. troops returned under Biden, the Trump years also saw a fair amount of combat there before the withdrawal order in December 2020.
The main goal of Al-Shabab, which pledged its allegiance to al-Qaida in 2012, is to overthrow the Somali government and install a fundamentalist Islamic regime in its place. The militant group controls large swaths of the Somali countryside.
Although al-Shabab’s violence has been concentrated in Somalia and neighboring countries, some members have designs on attacking Americans in East Africa or even in the United States, The New York Times reported in 2020.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.