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US kills 3 ISIS militants in Somalia airstrike



 A soldier patrols the road as the damage is assessed after Islamist group Al Shabaab hit a European Union armoured convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia October 1, 2018. [File, Standard]

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike on the Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Somalia killing three. The May 31 August airstrike occurred in remote area of Dhaardaar, 81 km Southeast of Bosaso, inside Somalia. No non-combatants were injured in the operation.

AFRICOM said the attack underscores the U.S’s ongoing commitment to combat terrorism and promote stability in the Horn of Africa. The airstrike is aimed at weakening ISIS's operational capabilities and financial resources, not only in Somalia but also in other parts of the world.

The U.S Department of Treasury has reported that since 2022, the ISIS branch in Somalia has been the group's primary revenue generator, amassing approximately $6 million through extortion and local taxes.

U.S. Marine Corps General Michael Langley, the Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, said the latest action signifies the critical role that America is playing in supporting Somali forces in their fight against terrorism.

"We are providing training, logistical support, medical evacuation, and intelligence to vetted units in the Somali National Army (SNA) — the 6 Danab commandos — and collaborating with the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS)," Gen Langley told the US Congress earlier this year.

He also highlighted the success of previous operations, noting that last year, “AFRICOM conducted 18 airstrikes and eliminated Bilal al-Sudani, a key ISIS leader in Somalia, with no civilian casualties."

The importance of this recent operation was further underscored by a conversation between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on June 1, a day after the airstrike. The two leaders discussed shared security interests and the need to reduce regional tensions, and focus on counterterrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa.

AFRICOM said "protecting innocent civilians remains a vital part of the command's operations to promote a more secure and stable Africa." This sentiment echoes the broader U.S. strategy in the region, which aims to disrupt terrorist networks while minimizing the impact on local populations.

In February 2024, U.S Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III met Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Bare Duale, and affirmed the U.S.-Kenya partnership on Somalia and related security issues.

“Kenya is a key strategic partner in tackling a range of shared threats and advancing security in East Africa and beyond," Austin said. Kenya's support and partnership in the African Union transition mission in Somalia is critical to stability in the region.”

Humanitarian needs are being addressed alongside military efforts. In addition to military efforts, the U.S. government has also recognized the importance of addressing the humanitarian needs of the Somali people. Congress recently approved $95 billion in funding, primarily for Ukraine and Israel, but also included support for Somalia's humanitarian requirements in the National Security Supplemental bill.

As the U.S. continues to work with its partners to combat terrorism in the Horn of Africa, the recent precision airstrike against ISIS-Somalia serves as a testament to the unwavering resolve and the critical importance of international cooperation in promoting regional stability and security.

With ongoing support and collaboration, the U.S. and its allies have indicated that they remain committed to degrading the capabilities of terrorist organizations and creating a more peaceful future for the people of Somalia and the region.Pearl Matibe is the Chief White House Correspondent with expertise on defence, foreign policy, and international security

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