While the world waits with bated breath to see if Trump will strike Syria or North Korea first in the next planned geopolitical diversion, overnight the Pentagon carried out an air strike on al-Shabaab in Somalia on Sunday, and Somalia said its special forces had joined in the attack to destroy one of the jihadist insurgent group's main training and command posts.
The office of President Mohamed Abdullahi said the base was located on Sakow, in the Middle Juba region in southern Somalia, according to VoA.
Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said Sunday he authorized the country's special forces with support from international partners to conduct a pre-dawn strike against an al-Shabab training camp near Sakow. He said the strike destroyed a key al-Shabab command and supply hub, which will "disrupt the enemy’s ability to conduct new attacks within Somalia.”
"Earlier today, I authorised our special forces with the support of our international partners to conduct a strike against an al Shabaab training camp near Sakow," his statement said. "This was a successful strike that destroyed a key al Shabaab command and supply hub. This will ultimately disrupt the enemy’s ability to conduct new attacks within Somalia."
The Somali president reiterated his call to al-Shabab to take advantage of his amnesty issued on April 6. “To the members of al-Shabab, I tell you that we are bringing the fight to you. If you, however take advantage of my amnesty offer and denounce violence, we will integrate you into our reform program,” he said. “You have no future with the terrorists, but you can still be a part of Somalia’s future; a peaceful and prosperous future.”
The U.S. military confirmed it participated "as a direct response to al-Shabab actions," including recent attacks on Somali and African Union forces. It says eight al-Shabab militants were killed in the strike.
Since being pushed out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, al Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia's cities and towns. But it still retains a strong presence in swathes of the south and center and still carries out major gun and bomb attacks, Reuters adds. The group aims to topple Somalia's government, drive out African Union peacekeeping troops and impose its own harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
The strike, which apparently was conducted by drones, was in response to an attack conducted on Thursday by the al Qaeda-linked group which struck a military base on Thursday in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region, killing 59, a Somali military officer said on Saturday.
According to VoA's Carla Babb, the alleged target of the strike was al Shabaab military commander Mahad Karate, although there has been no official confirmation from the Pentagon.
In recent years U.S. drone strikes have targeted a number of key al-Shabab commanders, including former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane who was killed on September 1, 2014.
In a statement, the DOD said that "U.S. forces conducted a strike operation against al-Shabab in Somalia, approximately 185 miles southwest of Mogadishu, according to a statement issued by chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White."
The United States conducted this operation in coordination with its regional partners as a direct response to al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces, the Pentagon spokesperson said.
This strike was conducted with the authorities approved by the president in March, which allows the Defense Department to conduct legal action against al-Shabab within a geographically-defined area of active hostilities in support of partner forces in Somalia, White said in the statement.
Considering the complete lack of press coverage of this latest strike by the US, the Pentago may have to aim a little higher (and to the north-east) next time, if Trump is to drop from the front pages.
And the full statement from the Pentagon: