U.S. airstrikes in Somalia kill three al-Shabab extremists

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U.S. airstrikes in Somalia killed three members of the al-Shabab extremist group and destroyed six buildings in their compound, U.S. Africa Command announced.

The two airstrikes on Friday struck an al-Shabab position near the town of Qunyo Barrow, on Somalia’s southern coast.

“Current assessments indicate the strikes killed three and wounded one al-Shabaab members and destroyed six and damaged one al-Shabaab compound buildings,” AFRICOM said Saturday in a press release. “The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this operation.”

The extremist group has sought for years to overthrow Somalia’s U.S.-backed government. U.S. forces undertook at least 50 airstrikes against the group in 2020.

The action was carried out as U.S. troops prepare to leave Somalia for nearby bases elsewhere in East Africa.

The pullout of about 800 troops was ordered in December by President Donald Trump, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

A U.S. Navy strike force, led by the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, briefly pulled into position near Somalia last week to protect the troop withdrawal.

“This action clearly demonstrates our continuing commitment to Somalia and our regional partners,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joel Tyler, AFRICOM director of operations.

“We retain the means and the will to strike the al-Shabab terrorist network when necessary to protect the region and ultimately, our own nation,” Tyler said.