The U.S. army for the first time conducted two airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Somalia, where the group is a growing presence in a country threatened by the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab. This was reported by the Associated Press.
The U.S. Africa Command said the two drone strikes killed “several terrorists” in northeastern Somalia, with the first around midnight local time and the second later Friday morning. The U.S. said the strikes were carried out in coordination with Somalia’s government.
Local officials confirmed the strikes. At least six missiles struck in Buqa, a remote mountainous village roughly 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Qandala town in the northern state of Puntland, a Somali security official told The Associated Press.
The airstrike may have targeted top leaders of the group, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The mayor of Qandala, Jama Mohamed, said the strikes sent terrified nomadic villagers and their animals fleeing.
The U.S. military this year has carried out well over a dozen drone strikes against al-Shabab extremists after the Trump administration approved expanded efforts against the group. Al-Shabab has been blamed for carrying out Somalia’s deadliest attack last month, a massive truck bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed more than 350 people. Somalia’s president has vowed a “state of war,” with neighbors sending in thousands of troops to help the local military and an African Union force.
But ISIS-linked fighters who have split from the Somalia-based al-Shabab pose a growing threat in Puntland.
As it was reported earlier Syrian government on Friday declared victory over Islamic State in the city of Deir al-Zor, the last jihadists’ stronghold in Syria.
Deir al-Zor is the largest and most important city in eastern Syria, and is the center of the country’s oil production.