The United States conducted its first airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Somalia on Friday. Previous operations in Somalia have been directed against the al-Shabaab terrorist group, which is affiliated with the Islamic State’s progenitors and rivals, al-Qaeda.
The U.S. Department of Defense stated that the strikes were conducted in coordination with the Somali government, occurred in northeastern Somalia, and killed “several terrorists.”
“The first strike occurred at about midnight East Africa Time, with the second strike taking place at about 11 a.m. AFRICOM officials are assessing the results of the strikes,” the statement said.
“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” said AFRICOM officials. “This includes partnering with the African Union Mission to Somalia and Somali national security forces and targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world.”
According to ABC News, the airstrikes were conducted with armed drones.
“The airstrikes were carried out under the authorities given to U.S. Africa Command in March by President Donald Trump. Those authorities enabled offensive airstrikes in Somalia. Until then, U.S. airstrikes could only be used in self-defense situations on behalf of Somali and African Union troops,” ABC adds.
The Associated Press reports that at least six missiles struck the remote mountain village of Buqa in the Somali state of Puntland. The mayor of the nearby town of Qandala confirmed the airstrike and said it “sent terrified nomadic villagers and their animals fleeing.”
A U.S. official anonymously told the Associated Press that the airstrike “may have targeted top leaders” of ISIS in Somalia.
Deutsche Welle notes that shortly before U.S. officials confirmed the strikes, President Donald Trump told reporters the United States would hit ISIS “ten times harder” in response to the truck attack by an Islamic State militant in New York on Tuesday.