A US airstrike in Somalia killed an al-Shabaab militant leader on Saturday in coordination with the Somali government, US Africa Command said in a statement.
The US said the initial assessment of the strike was that an al-Shabaab militant leader had been killed and there were no civilian casualties.
Although the statement did not identify the militant, the Somali Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism said on Twitter an operation on Saturday with international partners killed Abdullahi Nadir.
In late-September, a US airstrike in Somalia killed 27 members of al-Shabaab, the US said, part of increased support for the Somali government in the wake of President Joe Biden’s decision in May to approve the redeployment of US troops to the east African nation.
“Al-Shabaab is the largest and most kinetically active al Qaeda network in the world and has proved both its will and capability to attack US forces and threaten US security interests,” Africa Command said.
In December 2020, then-President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of US forces from Somalia in the waning days of his administration. But a senior Biden administration official described the withdrawal as “abrupt and sudden,” and al-Shabaab has only grown stronger since then.
In May of this year, Biden approved a Pentagon request to redeploy less than 500 troops to Somalia in consultation with the Somali government.
The US has conducted several strikes against al-Shabaab since the approval, but until the most recent airstrikes, operations were in explicitly in defense of Somali government forces. Africa Command said those strikes were against al-Shabaab militants attacking Somali forces, and the US response was “in defense of designated partner forces.”
But Saturday’s strike was a specific targeted operation against an al-Shabaab leader.
Africa Command said it would continue “to take action to prevent this malicious terrorist group from planning and conducting attacks on civilians.”