US Strikes Kill Four ‘Terrorists’ In Somalia

Somali people gather at a car bombing attack site in Mogadishu, on December 28, 2019. Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

 

The United States military said it killed four “terrorists” in airstrikes against the Al-Shabaab militant group in Somalia on Sunday, a day after the country’s deadliest attack in two years.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted three airstrikes in two locations in the conflict-hit east African nation on Sunday targeting Al-Shabaab militants, it said in a statement.

“These precision airstrikes targeted Al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with Al-Qaeda,” AFRICOM said.

“The US and the federal government of Somalia will continue to increase pressure on the terrorist organisation in order to deny them the ability to plot terrorist attacks.”

Sunday’s strikes killed two militants and destroyed two vehicles in Qunyo Barrow while a separate strike killed another two in Caliyoow Barrow, according to AFRICOM, which regularly carries out airstrikes in Somalia.

They followed a massive car bomb explosion in a busy area of Mogadishu on Saturday that left at least 79 people dead and scores injured.

At least 16 of those killed were students from the capital’s private Banadir University, who had been traveling on a bus when the car bomb detonated at a busy intersection southwest of the Somali capital.

Scores of wounded were carried on stretchers from the site, where the force of the explosion left the charred and twisted remains of vehicles.

Two Turkish nationals were also killed, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

The attack has not been claimed, but Mogadishu is regularly hit by car bombings and attacks waged by the Al-Shabaab Islamist militants, who have fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

– Guerrilla war –

The militant group emerged from the Islamic Courts Union, which once controlled central and southern Somalia, and is variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.

In 2010, the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

The following year, its fighters fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities, managing to inflict bloody death tolls in attacks at home and abroad.

“Since Al-Shabaab’s first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds,” said US Army Major General William Gayler, AFRICOM’s director of operations.

“They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans.”

Since 2015, there have been 13 attacks in Somalia with death tolls above 20. Eleven of these have been in Mogadishu, according to a tally of AFP figures.

All of them involved car bombs.

The deadliest attack in the country’s history was a truck bombing in October 2017 in Mogadishu which left 512 people dead and around 295 injured.

US strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities.”

The rate of airstrikes has risen sharply this year, and in an April statement, AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

AFRICOM, which has been accused by Amnesty International of killing several civilians in its airstrikes, said no civilians appeared to have been killed or wounded in its Sunday strike.

AFP

US Strikes Kill 15 Pro-Iran Fighters In Iraq

In this file photo taken on May 31, 2019 Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Iran-backed armed group, Hezbollah brigades, burn a US and Israeli flags during a military parade marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day in Baghdad. The US bombed the headquarters of the group in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said today, after a series of attacks in Iraq against American interests.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

 

Fifteen fighters, including commanders, were killed Sunday night in US strikes against a pro-Iran armed group in western Iraq, an official from the Tehran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary told AFP.

The official said several fighters were also wounded in the strikes, which the Pentagon said targeted the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah in response to a barrage of 30 or more rockets that was fired on Friday at an Iraqi military base, killing a US civilian contractor.

Repeated mortar and rocket attacks have since late October targeted American interests in the country, where the US has 5,200 troops deployed as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group.

The Pentagon said in a statement it had carried out strikes against five Kata’ib Hezbollah facilities — three in Iraq and two in neighbouring Syria.

US-Iran tensions have soared since Washington pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and imposed crippling sanctions.

Baghdad — which is close to both countries — risks being caught in the middle.

In Iraq’s neighbour Syria, Shiite powerhouse Iran backs the government of President Bashar al-Assad in an eight-year civil war