On Sept. 21, al Qaeda’s Somalia branch attacked US and partner forces 50 kilometers northwest of Kismayo, according to a US Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM) press release over the weekend.
In response, the United States conducted a defensive airstrike which killed 18 Shabaab fighters. Somali forces killed an additional two fighters in small arms fire.
A similar incident occurred less than a fortnight ago. On Sept. 11, Shabaab attacked US and partner forces in Mubaraak, a central village located approximately 37 miles west of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. The attack killed one partner force member.
The United States has conducted a total of 23 strikes against Shabaab in Somalia in 2018, AFRICOM Media Relations Officer Rebecca Farmer confirmed to Long War Journal over email. “U.S. forces in cooperation with the government of Somalia, are conducting ongoing counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab and ISIS-Somalia to degrade the groups’ ability to recruit, train, and plot terror attacks in Somalia and the region,” she added.
The State Department’s most recent report on terrorism described Somali as a “terrorist safe haven.” The report explained that “…al-Shabaab experienced significant military pressure during 2017, but the group still maintained control over large portions of the country. Al-Shabaab retained the ability to carry out high-profile attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), suicide bombings, mortars, and small arms.” The report attributed a mass casualty attack in Mogadishu last October to the group.