US forces conduct 'collective self-defense strike' in Somalia

US forces conduct 'collective self-defense strike' in Somalia
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U.S. forces conducted a “collective self-defense strike” against al Qaeda affiliated al Shabaab in Somalia on Tuesday night, U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said Wednesday.

“Al Shabaab has publicly committed to planning and conducting attacks against the US and our allies,” Africom said in a statement. “We continue to work in coordination with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al Shabaab, and help achieve stability and security throughout the region.”

The latest strike happened 300 miles southwest of Somali capital Mogadishu at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. It targeted “an al Shabaab troop concentration” and was the result of U.S. forces “working from actionable intelligence,” Africom said.

No other details of the operation were released.

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“We will continue to assess the results of the operation, and will provide additional information as appropriate,” Africom said. “Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operational security.”

The United States has about 50 troops in Somalia helping local forces fight the al Qaeda affiliate.

The Tuesday strike was conducted under the military’s authorities to “engage in collective self-defense of our Somali partners,” Africom said, suggesting the strike was not part of the expanded authorities President Trump granted the military earlier this year.

In March, Trump granted a request from Africom head Gen. Thomas Waldhauser to give commanders more authority to conduct airstrikes and raids against al Shabaab without high-level, interagency reviews.

Prior to the change, U.S. forces were allowed to carry out strikes in defense of partnered forces.

Two recent strikes were carried out under the new authorities. One came in June, when U.S. forces struck a logistics hub 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu and killed eight militants. 

Then, on Sunday, U.S. forces carried out another airstrike against al Shabaab. U.S. officials have not elaborated on the details of that strike.