US army says Somalia air raids target al-Shabab, kill 37 fighters

The two air strikes on Monday took place near Debatscile, the US Africa Command says.

    This year alone the US has conducted more than 20 air raids in Somalia against al-Shabab [File: Ali Bashi/AP]
    This year alone the US has conducted more than 20 air raids in Somalia against al-Shabab [File: Ali Bashi/AP]

    The US military says it has carried out air raids against al-Shabab in Somalia, killing at least 37 suspected fighters.

    In a statement on Tuesday, the US Africa Command (US AFRICOM) said the two attacks on Monday took place near Debatscile.

    "Air strikes reduce al-Shabab's ability to plot future attacks, disrupt its leadership networks, and degrade its freedom of manoeuvre within the region," the statement said.

    "We currently assess these strikes did not kill or injure any civilians."

    There was no immediate reaction from al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia's internationally recognised government. 

    Somali government officials have also not commented on the statement.

    US military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump approved expanded operations against al-Shabab early in his term. Dozens of drone attacks followed, while this year there have been more than 20 air raids against the group.

    Late last year, the military also carried out its first air raid against a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) group in northern Somalia.

    Since the expanded operations, two US military personnel have been killed in Somalia.

    A soldier died in May 2017 during an operation about 64km west of the capital, Mogadishu. In June, another US soldier was killed and four others were wounded in an "enemy attack" as Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland.

    The US currently has about 500 military personnel in the Horn of Africa nation. 

    Al-Shabab was pushed out of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in recent years but continues to control rural areas in the south and central regions.

    The al-Qaeda-linked group has been carrying our bomb and gun attacks for more than a decade. 

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies