Military officials have confirmed that two offensive airstrikes took place on November 3 against ISIS targets in the African nation, a first since the authority to conduct such actions was given to AFRICOM by President Donald Trump back in March. Previously, only strikes used in self-defense on behalf of local troops were permitted.
A statement released by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed the strikes, stating, “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US forces conducted two separate airstrikes against ISIS, in northeastern Somalia on Nov. 3, killing several terrorists.”
The statement continued, “The first strike occurred at approximately midnight local Somalia time with the second separate strike occurring at approximately 11 a.m. local Somalia time.”
“US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorists,” the statement added. “This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF); targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world.”
According to ABC News, these are the first offensive military strikes against ISIS in the country. Airstrikes in the region are typically against al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, which operates in the southern and central areas of Somalia.
The announcement coincides with recent statements from Trump made after the attack in Lower Manhattan.
On Friday, Trump tweeted, “ISIS just claimed the Degenerate Animal who killed, and so badly wounded, the wonderful people on the West Side, was ‘their soldier.’”
Trump continued, “Based on that, the Military has his ISIS ‘much harder’ over the last two days. They will pay a big price for every attack on us!”
Somalia, a nation on the Horn of Africa, has recently developed a small ISIS presence, which was targeted in the strikes. It is, however, not clear whether the two airstrikes were specifically retaliatory in nature or a response to the attack made by Sayfullo Saipov on October 31 in New York City.
Saipov, 29, is facing federal criminal charges for driving a Home Depot rental truck down a bike lane, killing eight and injuring 12, before crashing the vehicle. He was shot and taken into custody by New York police.