USA

Pentagon strikes al Qaeda's Somalia affiliate

That strike came about a week after a US airstrike near Mogadishu that Africa Command said killed 10 al-Shabaab fighters.

Africa Command said none of the strikes were assessed to have caused civilian casualties and that all of them were carried out in coordination with the US-backed Federal Government of Somalia.

The US military has carried out 16 strikes against al-Shabaab militants, fighting positions, infrastructure and equipment in 2018, Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Sheryll Klinkel told CNN.

In 2017, the US carried out 36 airstrikes in Somalia, the largest a November strike against an al-Shabaab camp that killed more than 100 militants.

A Pentagon report issued Friday said the US believes that no civilians were killed in US military ground or air operations during 2017.

However, last month Africa Command issued a statement saying it was reviewing allegations that civilian casualties had been caused during a May 9 Somali-led and US-advised "operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab's terrorist network near Bulcida, Somalia."

In April 2017, the Trump administration granted the head of Africa Command the authority to conduct targeted airstrikes against al-Shabaab fighters. Prior to that, the US could conduct airstrikes only in defense of US troops advising Somalian security forces on the ground.

The US estimates that al-Shabaab commands 4,000 to 6,000 active fighters, making it one of al Qaeda's largest affiliates.

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