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Pentagon: Terror leader was target of strike

A Pentagon spokesman on Tuesday said the leader of the al-Shabaab terrorist network was the principal target of a U.S. military strike in Somalia Monday night.

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“This operation was a direct strike against the al-Shabaab network, specifically the group's leader, Ahmed Abdi al-Muhammad, also known Ahmed Godane,” Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.

He said that U.S. special operations forces used manned and unmanned aircraft to destroy “an encampment and a vehicle” with several Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions.

Kirby declined to provide any specifics about the units involved, the “actionable intelligence” upon which the attack was based, nor any tactics, techniques and procedures used in the operation.

He categorically denied that there were any U.S. forces were on the ground "before or after" the airstrike, saying only that "we continue to work with partners in Somalia and in the region."

Kirby told reporters that while it is still unclear whether the strike was successful, “we certainly believe we hit what we were aiming at.”

Kirby later clarified that he meant the encampment and the vehicle. "That wasn’t a subtle hint that we think we got Godane," he said.

Godane’s death, if confirmed, would be “very significant blow” to the group's organization and its ability to carry out attacks, Kirby said.

Pentagon officials, however, are “mindful” that al-Shabaab is a “network and other leaders are at large,” he added.

Updated at 2:49 p.m.