US strike kills Isis leader Bilal al-Sudani in northern Somalia

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Bilal al-Sudani, an Islamic State leader, was killed on Wednesday night in a US counter-terrorism operation in a remote area of northern Somalia, according to senior administration officials.

US President Joe Biden ordered the operation targeting al-Sudani earlier this week, with forces prepared to capture him, the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters on Thursday. The response from hostile forces on the ground led to al-Sudani’s death and the deaths of 10 of his associates, the officials said.

Before he joined Isis, the US Treasury designated al-Sudani for his role in helping foreign fighters travel to training camps for al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, and for facilitating financing for foreign violent extremists, the officials said.

Biden approved the mission at the recommendation of defence secretary Lloyd Austin and advice from the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other national security aides, and the overall planning took several months, the officials said.

It resulted in no US military personnel casualties, although a service member was bitten by a service K9. No civilians were killed, according to the officials.

The mission was one of several US military counter-terrorism strikes in Somalia in recent weeks.

The US military last week conducted an air strike in Somalia that killed dozens of fighters from al-Shabaab. Somalian army forces were engaged in fighting following an attack by more than 100 al-Shabaab militants, US Africa Command said in a January 20 statement.

Other US air strikes described as “self-defensive” on December 14, 17 and 23 engaged al-Shabaab militants, according to news releases from US Africa Command.

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