US forces kill 13 Al-Shabab militants in airstrike in Somalia

US troops conduct a search operation near Mogadishu's Medina hospital in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2017
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US forces kill 13 Al-Shabab militants in airstrike in Somalia

NAIROBI: The US carried out a new airstrike on Christmas Eve against Al-Shabab militant group in southern Somalia that left 13 dead, the US military said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The statement from the US Africa Command said the strike was carried out on Sunday morning. A spokeswoman said it occurred about 50 km northwest of Kismayo and that no civilians were killed.
“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabab militants on the morning of Dec. 24, 2017, in southern Somalia, killing 13 terrorists,” read the statement from the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The US has carried out 34 drone strikes in Somalia this year after the Trump administration expanded military efforts against Africa’s deadliest extremist group.
In recent weeks, the US stepped up its operations in Somalia, with frequent strikes against Al-Shabab and a separate self-proclaimed branch of Daesh in the Horn of Africa nation.
Three weeks ago the US said it had killed eight Al-Shabab militants, while an airstrike in November reportedly left more than 100 militants dead.
Al-Shabab was blamed for the October truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that killed 512 people. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have left a higher death toll.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab has been fighting to overthrow successive internationally backed governments in Mogadishu since 2007 and frequently deploys car and truck bombs against military, government and civilian targets.
Al-Shabab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011, but has continued its fight and still controls vast rural areas.


Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

Updated 3 min 45 sec ago
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Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between US and Iran

  • ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators’
  • The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers
BAGHDAD: Iraq offered to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.
Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed Al-Hakim, made the offer Sunday during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said Al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.
In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran.
The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.
Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both US regional bases and Israel.
Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the US pullout.
Speaking about the rising tensions with the US, Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.
The mediation offer by Al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad Al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.
“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” Al-Hakim said.