Somalia sought US airstrike which killed militants

File: Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 km south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. (AP)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Somalia sought US airstrike which killed militants

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s government said on Wednesday it had requested the US airstrike which killed more than 100 suspected militants on the previous day to help pave the way for an upcoming ground offensive against the militant group Al-Shabab.
The US military’s Africa Command said on Tuesday it had killed more than 100 of the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in an airstrike on a camp 125 miles (200 km) northwest of the capital Mogadishu.
“Those militants were preparing explosives and attacks. Operations against Al-Shabab have been stepped up,” Abdirahman Omar Oman, the Somali minister, told Reuters.
“We have asked the US to help us from the air to make our readied ground offensive more successful.”
The US has ramped up operations in Somalia this year after President Donald Trump loosened the rules of engagement in March.
Africom reported eight US airstrikes from May to August this year, compared to 13 for the whole of 2016. Including Tuesday’s airstrike, it has reported five strikes in Somalia this month alone.
The Pentagon said the US military would continue to target militants in strikes in coordination with the Somali government.
A Navy Seal was killed in a raid in May and US forces were present at a controversial raid on the town of Bariire in August, in which 10 people were killed.
Al-Shabab has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns since African Union peacekeepers supporting Somali troops pushed the insurgency out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011. But it retains a strong presence in parts of the south and center.
Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a dual US-Somali citizen, has taken a harder line than his predecessors against the insurgency since he was sworn in earlier this year.
But his plans have been repeatedly thwarted by the poor state of the Somali military and political infighting.


US puts up $10m reward for Hezbollah information

Updated 5 min ago
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US puts up $10m reward for Hezbollah information

  • The money is for anyone who provides intelligence that allows the US to disrupt Hezbollah in key ways

WASHINGTON: The US on Monday offered a $10 million reward for information that would disrupt the finances of Lebanon’s Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.
The State Department said it would give the money to anyone who provides intelligence that allows the US to disrupt Hezbollah in key ways.
The areas include information on Hezbollah’s donors, on financial institutions that assist its transactions and on businesses controlled by the movement.
President Donald Trump’s administration has put a top priority on reducing the influence of Iran, the primary backer of Hezbollah.
The State Department listed three alleged Hezbollah financiers as examples of activities it was seeking to stop, with one, Ali Youssef Charara, allegedly funding the group by investing millions of dollars from Hezbollah in the telecommunications industry in West Africa.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pointed to a recent appeal by Hezbollah for donations as a sign of US success in curbing Iran.
On a visit last month to Beirut, Pompeo urged Lebanon to counter the “dark ambitions” of Iran and Hezbollah but was rebuffed by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who said Hezbollah was not a terrorist group and enjoyed a wide base.
The United States has vowed for decades to fight Shiite militants in Lebanon, with memories still bitter over the 1983 attack on a military barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans.
Hezbollah, however, also functions as a political party, with posts in the current cabinet, and enjoys support among some Lebanese who recall its guerrilla campaign that led Israel to withdraw from the country in 2000.