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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)
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.