U.S. Makes ‘Direct Strike’ on Somalia’s Al-Shabaab Network

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(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration struck a terror target in Somalia this past Saturday, showing “how long our reach can be when it comes to counter-terrorism,” the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

“There were no U.S. boots on the ground,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters. “This was done with hellfire missiles fired from UAVs” (unarmed aerial vehicles, or drones).

“Now, I do want to make you aware that on Saturday, this past Saturday, the 31st of January, a little bit after 9 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S. Special Operations forces conducted a strike south of Mogadishu, using unmanned aircraft and several Hellfire missiles,” Kirby told reporters.

“This operation was a direct strike against the al-Shabaab network, and the terrorist group’s chief of external operations and planning for intelligence and security. His name was Yousseff Dic.”

Kirby said the target was “directly involved” in the planning of terror attacks outside Somalia.

“We are still assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information when and if appropriate. At this time, however, we don’t assess there to be any civilian or bystander casualties as a result of the strike.

“This operation was, as others have been, an example of the commitment made by the United States government, our allies and partners, to the people and to the government of Somalia. And it goes to show, again, how long our reach can be when it comes to counter-terrorism.”

Kirby said this operation, as with all such operations, was done “in consultation and coordination” with the Somali government.

If the drone strike was successful — if the target “no longer breathes,” as Kirby put it — “then this is…another significant blow to al Shabaab and their ability to conduct, plan, prepare for and strike against targets outside — inside and outside Somalia. So we would deem this to be a successful — a very significant blow against their capabilities.”

This is the second drone strike in Somalia in recent weeks. On Jan. 22, missiles fired from U.S. drones killed an al-Qaida operative fighting with Somali terrorists.

And before that, another U.S. drone strike in October reportedly hit a vehicle carrying senior members of an al-Qaida-linked militant group in Somalia, killing at least two people including the group’s top explosives expert.