US Airstrike Kills Around 30 al-Shabaab Militants in Somalia, Military Says

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al-Shabab fighters march with their weapons during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia
In this Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 file photo, al-Shabab fighters march with their weapons during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor, File)

An airstrike conducted by the U.S. military killed dozens of al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia, U.S Africa Command said in a press release Friday, as the Islamist insurgent group was waging a massive attack on Somalia's national army.

The Jan. 20 strike occurred approximately 260 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu near Galcad, Somalia, as the Somali National Army was fighting against "a complex, extended, intense attack by more than 100 al-Shabaab fighters," the command said.

Approximately 30 al-Shabaab militants were killed and three vehicles were destroyed, according to the release. No civilians were injured or killed by the U.S. military's bombing operation.

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Somalia's government tweeted Jan. 20 that forces with the Somali National Army were repelling an attack on a base in Galcad and killed "100 Alshabab terrorists" and destroyed five vehicles.

The government also reported that seven of its soldiers were killed during fighting, according to the tweet.

Military.com could not confirm either of the estimates of casualties, or the affiliation of the targets.

"Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa," the U.S. military said in Friday's press release. "U.S. Africa Command's forces will continue training, advising, and equipping partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world."

U.S. Africa Command's most recent previously announced airstrike happened last month on Dec. 23, when the military was supporting the Somali National Army and killed six al-Shabaab militants.

Additional U.S. airstrikes on Dec. 14 and Dec. 17 killed a total of 15 al-Shabaab militants, according to news releases from U.S. Africa Command.

U.S. Africa Command has reported roughly two airstrikes per month against al-Shabaab since this last fall, per public press releases.

Notably, an Oct. 1 airstrike near Jilib, about 370 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, killed "an al-Shabaab leader," according to a news release.

The U.S. government has had a military presence in Somalia since the mid-2000s, mostly targeting al-Shabaab. In the waning weeks of then-President Donald Trump's presidency, the military was removed from Somalia.

This past May, President Joe Biden recommitted the military's presence back to Somalia, ordering fewer than 500 troops to redeploy to the region, according to Reuters.

The Africa Center for Strategic Studiess, the Pentagon's study institution dedicated to researching security issues in the region, detailed in a report this past August that Somalia saw an 11% increase "in militant Islamist events and fatalities" over the last year.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at thomas.novelly@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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