The United States carried out its first air strikes against Islamic State militants in Somalia and killed “several terrorists,” the U.S. military said on Friday.
The U.S. Africa Command said the two separate airstrikes were conducted in collaboration with the Somali federal government at about midnight and 11:00AM local time.
“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted two separate airstrikes against ISIS, in northeastern Somalia on Nov. 3, killing several terrorists,” a statement from the mission read.
Islamic State has been gathering recruits in the region, although experts say the scale of its force is unclear and it remains a small player compared to the al-Shabaab group.
Last month, a group loyal to Islamic State seized a small port town in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, the first town it has taken since emerging a year ago.
The group, which refers to itself simply as Islamic State, is a rival to the larger al-Shabaab force, which is linked to Islamic State’s rival al Qaeda and once controlled much of Somalia.
The US Africom statement also said the mission will continue to conduct the operations.
“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats. 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,” it said.
Somalia has been rocked by an Islamists insurgency for nearly a decade, a war that has almost solely been waged by the al-Shabaab group.
Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo last month sought assurances from East African leaders that they would continue to deploy troops into his country to battle the militants, saying he would wage a major offensive against them.