Single U.S. airstrike wipes out 100 terrorists in Somalia

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Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the town of Suruc in this file October 18, 2014 file photo. A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold a large swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria, two countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake. The Turkish military and police had declared the Turkish-Syrian border area a "military zone", which limits the ability of the press to move around. In these days of modern warfare, the weaponry is more powerful than that in the old days. So all of my colleagues and I have to be doubly careful to ensure we do not end up in the line of fire, as positions of Kurdish YPG fighters and IS militants change quickly. For all those reasons, to stay away is the only solution at the moment. We ended up on hills about 2km (1.24 miles) away from Kobani using very long telephoto lenses, often more than 1000mm, to get a peek into the city while listening to the sound of war and smelling its scent. Sometimes you see a shadow of a fighter hiding behind a building and more often you see the massive impact of heavy airstrikes. It is a bit strange sitting there with lenses I usually use for sports photography alongside people from the area, who come to the hills to see what's going on. They bring binoculars and make tea - making it almost seems like a tourist attraction. - Kai Pfaffenbach REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (TURKEY - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS: THIS PICTURE IS PART OF THE PACKAGE 'PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2014 - THE PHOTOGRAPHERS' STORY'. SEARCH 'PHOTOGRAPHERS' STORY' FOR ALL IMAGES' - RTR4FOX1

A single American military airstrike killed at least 100 fighters allied with the Somali-based terror group al-Shabab, the Pentagon revealed Tuesday, adding to an escalating body count as the Trump administration ramps up its counterterrorism campaign in the West African nation.

U.S. forces working with the Somalian government on Tuesday confirmed an American sortie against a suspected al-Shabab camp ended with more than 100 fighters dead. The strike, which took place 125 miles west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, was the largest casualty count racked up by U.S. warplanes operating in Somalia this month.

And the Pentagon said the up-tempo pace will not fade quickly.

“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats” working with the African Union and Somali federal forces, the U.S. Africa Command said in a statement shortly after Tuesday’s strike.

Reached by the Reuters news service, al-Shabab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab denied the attack.

“It is just … propaganda,” he said.

But Somalia’s state news agency SONNA reported late on Tuesday that “about 100 militants” had indeed been killed when U.S. planes and Somali commandos attacked al-Shabab bases in the Bur Elay area of Bay region.

The attack on the al-Shabab compound was the fifth by American fighters against targets associated with the terror group that has been fighting a deadly insurgent war against the weak Somalian government.

Several militants were killed during a pair of initial airstrikes on Nov. 3, while several more died during a Nov. 14 U.S. strike on an al-Shabab target 60 miles northwest of Mogadishu, command officials confirmed at the time.

There are currently 500 U.S. military personnel stationed in Somalia, supporting and leading counterterrorism operations in the country, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said earlier this month. He declined to comment on the exact number of al-Shabab fighters based in the country, or whether other terror groups like Islamic State were gaining a foothold in the Horn of Africa.

In one of its first national security actions, the Trump administration in May ordered an escalation of American-led operations against al-Shabab’s network in Somalia. The order came weeks after Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken was killed in a Navy SEALs raid against a known al-Shabab stronghold in the country

His death was the first U.S. casualty in Somalia since 18 American soldiers were killed during the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident in 1993.

Earlier this month the U.S. warned of a threat to American diplomatic personnel in Mogadishu and directed all nonessential staff to leave the capital.

Al-Shabab has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns since it was pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011. But it retains a strong presence in parts of the south and center and carries out terror attacks, Reuters reported.

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