U.S. Military Conducts a Drone Strike Against Shabab Fighters in Somalia

The strike was the first against the militants since the Biden administration put strict limits on military action in the East African nation pending a review of drone policy.



By Eric Schmitt and Declan Walsh

WASHINGTON — The United States conducted a drone strike against Shabab militants in Somalia on Tuesday, the first such military action against the Qaeda affiliate in East Africa since the Biden administration took office in January.

The strike was carried out by military aircraft against Shabab fighters who were attacking members of the Danab, an elite American-trained Somali commando force, near the town of Galkayo in the country’s north, said a Pentagon spokeswoman, Cindi King.

The Biden administration placed new limits on drone strikes outside active war zones when it took office on Jan. 20, to give it time to develop a permanent policy. The Trump administration set broad rules for strikes in particular countries and delegated authority to commanders in the field about when to carry them out, but proposals for strikes are now generally routed through the White House.

The White House has since rejected a handful of requests by the military’s Africa Command to carry out drone strikes against Shabab targets in Somalia because they did not meet the new standards. But in this case, Mrs. King said, White House approval was not needed because the Africa Command has the authority to conduct strikes in support of allied forces under what the military calls collective self-defense.

Under orders from President Donald J. Trump, most of the 700 American troops based in Somalia to advise and assist Somali military and counterterrorism forces were withdrawn in the waning weeks of his administration, and sent to nearby Kenya and Djibouti.

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