The U.S. soldier killed Thursday during a raid on al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia was the first U.S. combat death in the country since 1993, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Friday that during an advise-and-assist mission led by the Somali National Army, U.S. special operations troops unexpectedly came under fire.
The mission was targeting a compound of al-Shabaab militants that “has been associated with some attacks on facilities that we use and that our Somali partners use nearby.”
Davis said the U.S. forces used their aircraft to bring the Somali forces to the compound near Barii, about 40 miles west of the capital of Mogadishu.
The U.S. troops “were there maintaining a distance back as they conducted the operation and that’s when our forces came under fire. We had the unfortunate casualty.”
The attack, which wounded several U.S. troops, took place “in the early phase in the mission, they were on the ground,” Davis said.
Davis added that the al-Shabaab attackers were “quickly neutralized,” but would not say whether the mission was a success.
“The mission I will leave to the Somalis to characterize in terms of what the operational objectives achieved were but it was designed to target this compound,” Davis said.
The United States has worked with the Somali National Army since 2013 to help in the fight against the al Qaeda affiliate, but in recent weeks has increased its efforts. In March, President Trump gave the military more authority to launch airstrikes and conduct raids in the country.
Davis said there are about 50 U.S. special operations troops now working with African Union Mission in Somalia and local national commandos as part of an “advise and assist mission” for the Somali National Army, but “there are occasional additional groups that come in.”
In a statement on the casualty, U.S. Africa Command said it continues “to support our Somali and regional partners to systematically dismantle this al Qaeda affiliate, and help them to achieve stability and security throughout the region as part of the global counterterrorism effort.”
This is the fourth U.S. service member to be killed within the past week, with the casualties spread out over three war zones.
A soldier died on Saturday following an explosion outside of Mosul in northern Iraq, and two Army Rangers were killed early last Friday morning during a raid on ISIS militants in Afghanistan.
Wararka iyo Barnaamijyada Radio Kulmiye si aad u dhageysato garaac
USA: 0016054755246 / 0017124329566