Flashpoints

US strikes ISIS fighters in Somalia

U.S. forces conducted an airstrike Friday against ISIS fighters in the Golis Mountains of northern Somalia, according to US military officials.

Officials with U.S. Africa Command assess the airstrike killed three terrorists.

“The Golis Mountains are a known area for terrorist activity,” AFRICOM said in a news release. “Precision airstrikes such as these support Somali security forces efforts to protect the Somali people from terrorists and support long-term security in the region.”

Somalia remains a volatile place, and airstrikes in the country are up slightly in 2019. AFRICOM carried out 55 airstrikes in 2019 against against al-Shabab and ISIS-Somalia militants, compared to 47 such strikes in 2018, according to data provided by AFRICOM. Only eight of the strikes this year targeted ISIS fighters in Somalia.

Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. a couple of U.S. airstrikes hit the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab following a brazen attack on a U.S. outpost believed to house American special operators and a Somali commando force known as Danab — a Somali term for lightning.

Lt. Cmdr. Desiree Frame, a spokeswoman for AFRICOM, told Military Times in September that there were 650 to 800 Defense Department personnel in Somalia. Those figures include civilian and military personnel.

ISIS hasn’t made huge waves in Somalia. Officials with AFRICOM assess the terror group only numbers between 100 and 300 fighters. Shabab makes up the core of the insurgency plaguing much of rural Somalia.

Shabab is estimated to have between 5,000 to 7,000 fighters and controls 20 percent of Somalia, Frame told Military Times. A recent UN report detailed that Shabab fighters are adapting to sustained airstrikes from U.S. forces by operating in urban areas.

AFRICOM said no civilians were injured or killed in Friday’s strike.

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