A U.S airstrike on a suspected al-Shabaab checkpoint killed at least five militants, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday. This is the most recent in strings of U.S. military operations targeting the organization, the Pentagon confirmed.
The strike, which took place in an area west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, was called in by a U.S. special operations team helping Ugandan forces during an attack on the al-Shabaab checkpoint, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said.
The Captain also reported figures on their own part, stating that no American or Ungandan soldier was hurt during the raid or ensuing airstrike. According to Capt. Davis, the 15 to 20 al-Shabaab gunmen securing the checkpoint posed an “imminent threat” to Ugandan forces and their U.S. counterparts.
The Ugandan assault team then came under heavy fire fight while attempting to take over the al-Shabaab checkpoint, before U.S forces called in for U.S. air support which came afterwards.
The checkpoint was being used by the Islamic State-affiliated group to extort money from individuals traveling through the area. Capt. Davis said none of the members of the U.S. special operations team, assisting the Ugandan troops participate in the raid, opened fire during the ensuing firefight.
Though the U.S forces didn’t directly take part in the fight as they were some distance away, they “were close enough” to observe the operation and later call in air support, he noted.
Capt. Davis refused to specifically state whether the strike was carried out by U.S. drones or American warplanes. However, he did note that U.S. counter-terrorism forces “typically use unmanned [aircraft] in Somalia.”
He refused to give the number of U.S. troops who were on the ground advising the Ugandan force, but did say roughly 50 soldiers of the American special operations forces were currently in Somalia, conducting counter-terrorism and military assistance for the African Union peacekeeping force in the country.