US Bombs Extremist Group al-Shabaab in Somalia

Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage of a car bomb that was detonated at the main gate of the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday, July, 9, 2014. The attack underscored the threat posed by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab in east Africa. (Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP Photo)

The United States on Tuesday carried out an airstrike in Somalia against the extremist group al-Shabaab.

In a statement, Defense Department spokeswoman Cindi King said that U.S. Africa Command forces conducted a single airstrike against al-Shabaab near Galkayo, Somalia. 

King said the airstrike was carried out to support Somali National Army troops who were under attack by al-Shabaab fighters. No U.S. forces accompanied the Somalis during the operation, but they were remotely advising and assisting from another unidentified location, she added.

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King would not say what kind of aircraft carried out the strike, what kind of ordnance was used, or the specifics about the forces hit in the airstrike.

Al-Shabaab is an Islamic extremist group based in Somalia with ties to al-Qaida.

It was the first U.S. airstrike conducted in the country since Jan. 19, when Africa Command said it carried out two airstrikes near Jamaame and Deb Scinnele targeting al-Shabaab leaders involved in training, planning and carrying out bomb attacks.

That pair of strikes followed one on Jan. 18 that destroyed an al-Shabaab compound near Tiyeeglow, Somalia, according to Africa Command.

The U.S. military had about 800 troops in Somalia as of late December on missions to conduct counterterrorism operations and to train, advise and assist the Somalis.

Former President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to withdraw roughly 700 of those troops, a process that began in early January.

As he announced plans to withdraw forces to other bases in East Africa last December, Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of Africa Command, warned al-Shabaab that the U.S. remained capable of striking the group "at the time and place of our choosing."

"They should not test us," he added.

The U.S. has continued working with Somali forces in advisory and training roles since it moved personnel out of the country and conducted its first post-drawdown training engagement in late January.

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

Related: AFRICOM Sends Warning to Al-Shabaab as US Troops Begin Withdrawing from Somalia

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