US conducts series of strikes in Somalia

A Somali soldier holds a machine gun at a military base in this 2018 file photo (AFP Photo/Mohamed ABDIWAHAB )
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Washington (AFP) - US forces have conducted a series of air strikes in Somalia in recent days, including one announced Wednesday that officials said killed six jihadists.

The strikes come as part of an ongoing mission in which US forces are working with African Union and Somali national security forces to fight the Shabaab movement.

According to US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the US conducted strikes each day from January 6-8, killing 16 militants in total.

On January 2, in the first US strike of 2019 in Somalia, 10 Shabaab fighters were killed.

A strike on Tuesday which left six dead took place on a Shabaab encampment that served as a staging area for "terrorists" in the region, AFRICOM said in a statement Wednesday.

The Pentagon has increased the rate of strikes in Somalia in recent years, partly because President Donald Trump loosened constraints on when the US military can take actions against alleged terrorists.

Last month, the US military said it had killed 62 Shabaab militants in six air strikes in Somalia.

NBC News last week reported that Trump is mulling a possible draw down in Somalia, where about 500 US personnel are deployed.

Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Candice Tresch said: "There have been no recent (Pentagon) policy changes regarding US operations in Somalia."

Trump has ordered a US withdrawal from Syria and, according to US officials, wants to slash the troop presence in Afghanistan.

"The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world," Trump said during a Christmastime visit to Iraq.

"We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous."

The Pentagon in November announced it would trim about 10 percent of the 7,200 US troops in Africa as part of a broader shift in focus towards "Great Power" competitors such as China and Russia.