US strikes ISIS in Somalia for first time

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The US conducted a pair of drone strikes against ISIS fighters in Somalia on Friday, the first time America has struck the militants in the Horn of Africa nation, officials said.

The strikes occurred in northeastern Somalia and killed “several terrorists,” the US military’s Africa Command said in a statement.

“No civilians were in the vicinity of the strikes,” said AFRICOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Anthony Falvo.

“They struck their intended targets,” he added, noting these were the first anti-ISIS air strikes in Somalia.

The first strike occurred around midnight Somalia time (0300 GMT) with the second strike coming at about 11:00 am (1400 GMT).

In recent months, the US has repeatedly hit Somali militants from the Shabaab rebel group that is aligned with Al-Qaeda, but Friday’s development marks a significant step in the ever-evolving war against ISIS.

“US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” AFRICOM said.

Somalia’s security forces are disorganized and riddled with corruption, and the Shabaab has exploited state weakness to maintain control of many rural parts of central and southern Somalia.

The al Shabaab group aims to drive out the peacekeepers, topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose its strict version of Islam on the Horn of Africa state.

More than 350 people were killed in twin bombings in the Somali capital Mogadishu last month, the deadliest attack in the country's history.

Earlier this year, the White House granted the US military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al Shabaab.

(With Reuters)

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