US launches first airstrikes against ISIS in Somalia
The United States conducted two separate airstrikes targeting ISIS militants in northeastern Somalia for the first time on Friday, US Africa Command said in a statement.
While the results of the strikes are still being assessed, Africa Command said “several” terrorists were killed.
A US official told CNN the strikes were carried out by an unmanned drone.
“US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” Samantha Reho, a spokesperson for Africa Command said. That includes partnering with the African Union Mission in Somalia and Somali National Security Forces, “targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world.”
The strikes mark the first time the US has targeted ISIS in a country in the Horn of Africa that has been beset by violence and a barely functioning central government for years.
It also comes the same day President Donald Trump told reporters the US military would dramatically ramp up military operations against the terrorist group following an attack in New York earlier this week by a man claiming allegiance to ISIS.
There was nothing to immediately suggest the strike in Somalia had any relation to the attack in Lower Manhattan that killed eight people and injured many more.
US special operations forces teams, along with US air power, have periodically operated inside Somalia in recent years against the al-Shabaab terrorist group, which has been responsible for plotting and executing attacks targeting Westerners throughout eastern Africa and beyond.
While al-Shabaab has claimed its allegiance to al Qaeda, terrorist groups affiliating themselves with ISIS have worked to gain a foothold in places across the continent.
US Africa Command, which oversees US military operations on the continent, was granted enhanced authorities by Trump earlier this year that allowed US forces to target al Shabaab, and other militant groups operating in Somalia in offensive strikes.