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US Airstrike kills 30 al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia

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On January 20, US forces launched an airstrike on al-Shabaab terrorists killing 30 and destroying three technicals, pickup trucks with weapons mounted on the truck’s bed, near the town of Galcad, according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The U.S. military characterized the airstrike as “a collective self-defense” strike. The al-Shabaab fighters were “engaged in heavy fighting” with the Somali National Army “following a complex, extended, intense attack,” AFRICOM said. Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda-affiliated group operating in east Africa.

AFRICOM added that no U.S. troops were present and that no civilians were harmed during the airstrikes. The Command also stated that more than 100 militants attacked Galcad, which is located about 162 miles north of the capital Mogadishu. Somali forces have been fighting with al-Shabaab for control of the town for the past week.

Related: Al-Shabaab requests negotiations while US renews military aid to Somalia

American re-engagement in Somalia makes a difference

Danab forces perform shooting and movement training, April 18, 2021, in East Africa. Tactical training helps the Danab counter violent extremist organizations in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Daniel Asselta)

Former President Trump removed all U.S. troops from Somalia as his term was ending in late 2020, but in May 2021 American troops returned to the country to train and advise Somali forces that are trying to reverse the gains made by al-Shabaab.

The U.S. has also resumed self-defense airstrikes targeting large groups of al-Shabaab fighters and selected high-value targets. Since the airstrikes resumed, the U.S. has inflicted serious casualties on the group killing approximately 80 terrorists.

U.S. special operations forces have been training, advising, and equipping the Danab Special Forces Brigade and are expanding the unit’s size. Danab forces are the best troops that Somalia has in the fight against al-Shabaab.

“US Africa Command’s forces will continue training, advising, and equipping partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world,” AFRICOM said in a released statement.

Somalia liberated Galcad and neighboring Harardhere, a port town that houses a large al-Shabaab base, on January 14.

“Haradhere and Galcad districts have been taken from the hands of the al-Shabab terrorists,” Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur said at the time. “This means al-Shabab is overpowered and gone. The remaining towns will also be liberated soon.”

In the past, Somalia would liberate towns from al-Shabaab only for the terrorists to melt into the civilian population and then return to conduct terrorist attacks against civilians, government officials, and major population centers, like shopping malls and hotels. Somalia has to be able to hold and secure liberated areas.

Feature Image: A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper sits on the runway at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chris Jacobs/Released)

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Steve Balestrieri