US air strike ‘targets al-Shabab leader’

SHAFAQNA – The United States has launched an air strike targeting a senior leader of Somalia’s al-Shabab group, the Pentagon has said.Military spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the raid on Monday hit a target in Saakow, in sourthern Somalia, shortly after the armed group’s intelligence chief surrendered to government and African Union forces. Kirby did not identify the targeted fighter’s name. “At this time, we do not assess there to be any civilian or bystander casualties,” he said.

“The strike took place in the vicinity of Saacow, Somalia,” Mark Wright, spokesperson for the department of defence, said in a statement on Monday.

“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information, when appropriate, as details become available.”

Al-Shabab fighters are fighting to overthrow the Somali government, regularly launching attacks against state targets and in neighbouring countries that contribute to an African Union (AU) force operating in the country.

The AU force, deployed since 2007, has pushed al-Shabab out of the capital, but the group still hold large swathes of territory in the south and center of the country.

Recent rebel attacks have targeted key government and security sites in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and the African Union that they are winning the war.

The United States has no permanently deployed ground force in Somalia but supports the government and sometimes deploys air power or special forces against targets linked with the armed group.

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