Somalia requested US air strike


Somalia’s government requested the US air strike which killed more than 100 suspected militants earlier this week to pave the way for an upcoming ground offensive against Islamist militant group al Shabaab.

The United States military’s Africa Command said on Tuesday it killed more than 100 al Qaeda-linked insurgents in an air strike on a camp north-west Mogadishu.
“Those militants were preparing explosives and attacks. Operations against al Shabaab have been stepped up,” Abdirahman Omar Oman, the Somali minister, told Reuters.
“We asked the US to help us from the air to make our readied ground offensive more successful.”

The United States ramped up operations in Somalia this year after President Donald Trump loosened the rules of engagement in March.

Africom reported eight US air strikes from May to August, compared to 13 for 2016. Including Tuesday’s air strike, it has reported five in Somalia this month.

The Pentagon said the US military would continue to target militants in strikes in co-ordination with the Somali government.

A Navy Seal was killed in a raid in May and US forces were at a controversial raid on Bariire in August, in which 10 people were killed.

Al Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns since African Union peacekeepers supporting Somali troops pushed the insurgency out of Mogadishu in 2011. But it retains a strong presence in parts of the south and centre.

Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a dual US-Somali citizen, has taken a harder line than his predecessors against the insurgency since being sworn in earlier this year.

His plans have been repeatedly thwarted by the poor state of the Somali military and political infighting.