At least five US drone strikes hit in the space of three days killing an undisclosed number of people. They were reportedly carried out in support of African Union troops who were advancing on Baraawe, an al Shabaab stronghold since 2009.
The strikes reportedly hit between the attack reported on July 15th and July 18th, when President Obama arrived in Kenya for an official visit.
The attacks were reported in the LA Times, citing anonymous US officials. They were confirmed by a US spokesperson who said in a statement: “Over the past week, US forces conducted a series of strikes against al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group in Somalia, in defence of Amisom forces under imminent threat of attack.”
Previous US air attacks in Somalia had been focused on decapitating al Shabaab, taking out its senior leaders. These attacks were more focused on directly supporting and protecting African Union troops on the ground. “The strikes prevented attacks by militants, which posed a significant threat to friendly forces. We are still assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information if and when appropriate,” the spokesperson said.
One US military official echoed this, telling the LA Times: “It’s a change in how we’re providing support… Up until now, we’ve focused strikes on high-value targets. These strikes were launched to defend forces on the ground.” An unnamed senior US official told the paper al Shabaab were “massing,” and “massing provides targets, and targets get struck.”
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the port city Baraawe, for which the coordinates are: 1.112554, 44.028921. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
LAt Times, July 23rd, 2015:
"The U.S. military’s Africa Command, which oversees operations on the continent, confirmed the airstrikes, but said the timing was not related to Obama’s visit to Kenya and Ethiopia.
“Over the past week, U.S. forces conducted a series of strikes against Al Shabab in defense of AMISOM forces under imminent threat of attack,” Patrick Barnes, a spokesman for the command, said in a statement. “The strikes prevented attacks by militants, which posed a significant threat to friendly forces.”"