The Pentagon on Tuesday announced the first airstrike in Somalia during the Biden administration.
U.S. officials described the strike as an effort to assist Somali forces after they came under attack from the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization al-Shabaab.
“The Department of Defense can confirm that in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command forces conducted one airstrike against al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Galkayo, Somalia, today,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia King said Tuesday.
“There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces,” King added.
“The target was the al-Shabaab terrorists who were attacking Somali military forces. The battle damage assessment is still pending, but the command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this strike,” she reported.
King identified the forces in question as a unit of the Somali National Army and noted the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has the authority under United Nations charter to “conduct strikes in support of combatant commander designated partner forces under collective self-defense.”
The last U.S. airstrike in Somalia was conducted on January 15. Most American forces left Somalia under orders from former President Donald Trump, in some cases relocating to bases in neighboring countries.
The Pentagon did not specify where Tuesday’s airstrike was launched from, or the type of U.S. aircraft involved. Galkayo is near the eastern coast of Somalia along the border with Ethiopia. Nearby U.S. bases are located in Kenya and Djibouti.
The previous round of U.S. airstrikes in January targeted al-Shabaab leaders and training compounds. AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend warned al-Shabaab in December that even after withdrawing most of the 800 troops stationed in Somalia, the United States remained capable of striking the terrorist group “at the time and place of our choosing.”