SOMALIA: US Airstrike Hits Militants in Puntland State

Islamic state militants

The US military conducted an airstrike in Somalia on Tuesday targeting ISIS fighters that had attacked US-backed local forces that were being advised by US troops.

“U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike against ISIS-Somalia terrorists after they attacked partner forces in a remote location near Timirshe, Somalia, July 21,” the command said in a statement Wednesday, saying that “when this airstrike occurred, U.S. forces were in the area in order to advise and assist Somali and partner forces.”

It was not immediately clear whether US personnel were directly involved in the engagement.

Timirshe is located 140 kilometers southeast of Bosasso, Somalia.

“At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed seven (7) ISIS-Somalia terrorists,” the statement from Africa Command said.

Officials in Puntland issued their own statement, saying they killed 20 ISIS militants during 48-hour operation in the eastern parts of Bari region. Puntland says senior local militants and one senior foreign fighter were among those killed in the operation. 

Puntland Security Forces

The statement did not identify the foreign fighters killed in the operation but say he was a trainer and a liaison between ISIS in Somalia and ISIS fighters in other parts of the world. 

Puntland says the targeted foreign fighter has been in Somalia since 2014. Puntland also said their forces destroyed a storage for weapons, explosive materials and foods.

While the US has regularly targeted the local al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab, ISIS Somalia is a smaller organization and is less often the target of US military operations.

ISIS-Somalia, a local affiliate of the terror group, is active primarily in Somalia’s northeastern Puntland region.

The last reported US airstrike targeting ISIS in Somalia took place in October.