WASHINGTON – A U.S. servicemember was killed May 4 during an operation against al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu, according to a statement from U.S. Africa Command on Friday.
U.S. forces were conducting an advise and assist mission alongside members of the Somali National Army, the statement said. Two additional servicemembers were wounded, which involved small arms fire, according to CNN.
“Al-Shabaab presents a threat to Americans and American interests,” the statement indicated.
It also indicated that the forces were assisting partners to degrade al-Shabaab’s ability to recruit, train, and plot terror attacks throughout the region and in the U.S.
It added, “Al-Shabaab’s affiliate, al-Qaeda has murdered Americans; radicalizes and recruits terrorists and fighters in the United States; and attempts to conduct and inspire attacks against Americans, our allies and our interests around the world, including here at home.”
“We continue to support our Somali and regional partners to systematically dismantle this al Qaeda affiliate, and help them to achieve stability and security throughout the region as part of the global counterterrorism effort,” the statement said.
In March, President Trump designated some parts of Somalia as “areas of active hostilities,” which allowed the U.S. to strike al-Shabaab without having to meet the conditions of “near certainty” of no civilian deaths and an existent direct threat to Americans.
The change would allow the U.S. military authority to conduct offensive strikes and raids against al-Shabaab terrorists instead of waiting for them to attack local forces with whom U.S. forces may be embedded.
AFRICOM said in April that it was deploying to Somalia a few dozen U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division to train Somali National Army and African Union peacekeepers, a doubling of American special operations forces there, and that the deployment was planned before Trump took office.