Five al-Shabaab members have died in an airstrike in Somalia, according to the United States Africa Command.
The U.S. strike targeted al-Shabaab leaders near Saaxa Weyne, AFRICOM said. No civilians were injured or killed during the operation.
“This strike targeted known al-Shabaab leaders who facilitated finance, weapons, fighters, and explosives. One is suspected of being involved in a previous attack against U.S. and Somali forces,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, the Joint Task Force – Quartz commander. “Our continued disruption of al-Shabaab through persistent strikes shows our ongoing commitment to our partners.”
The reference to JTF-Quartz acknowledges the U.S. repositioning plan for Somalia, called Operation Octave Quartz. It was launched in December following the decision of outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump to relocate most U.S. troops out of Somalia by January 15.
Those forces aren’t expected to leave the continent but are moving to other locations, particularly military bases in East Africa. There are about 700 U.S. personnel who were serving in Somalia, with a number of them moving to Kenya.
“To be clear, the U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from East Africa,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the AFRICOM commander, after the decision was announced last month. “We remain committed to helping our African partners build a more secure future. We also remain capable of striking Al-Shabaab at the time and place of our choosing—they should not test us.”