- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2019

American airstrikes killed 13 militants affiliated with the Islamic State’s burgeoning Somalia faction, as Washington and its allies attempt to stamp out the terror group’s efforts to gain a wider foothold in North Africa.

The strikes took place on May 8, against an Islamic State Somalia encampment in the country’s Golis Mountain range, roughly 800 miles north of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, U.S. Africa Command officials confirmed in a statement Thursday.

Command officials said the strikes, taken in coordination with the Somali government, did not result in any civilian casualties.

“A detailed post-strike analysis continues, and more details may be released as appropriate,” the officials said.

Officials also said the strikes were part of a quietly escalating counterterrorism fight against extremist groups operating in Africa.

The relatively new Islamic State faction in Somalia is seen to be joining with an existing al Qaeda west African cell, dubbed al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Another east African terror group, al Shabab, and the Nigerian-based Boko Haram are also active on the continent.

In their statement Thursday, U.S. Africa Command officials described an evolving U.S. counterterrorism mission against the groups.

“There is a deliberate campaign underway, that is intelligence-driven, that capitalizes on what we learn during each operation and rapidly leveraging that information to drive the next operation, including discovering where terrorists may be training, massing, and preparing to commit atrocities,” Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, head of U.S. Africa Command’s intelligence directorate, said in the statement.

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