Trump grants US military more authority to attack militants in Somalia

02 April, 2017, 01:39 | Author: Essie Rivera

US officials say President Donald Trump has given the USA military greater authority to go after al-Qaida linked militants in Somalia. "Somali and [African Union Mission in Somalia] forces already achieved significant success in recapturing territory from Al-Shabab, and additional US support will help them increase pressure on Al-Shabab and reduce the risk to our partner forces when they conduct operations".

President Donald has finally turned his eyes on Africa as he boosted the United States military's authority to step up air strikes in the fight against Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

Under the former administration of President Barack Obama, the USA had only been able to employ air-strikes against al-Shabaab militants in self-defense situations - when African Union or Somali government troops accompanied by USA advisers, came under attack.

Al Shabaab has been able to carry out deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the Somali government. One of its worst attacks happened in 2010 when it bombed two World Cup viewing parties in Uganda, killing 74 people. They said rules to avoid civilian casualties would not be loosened. Since then, the USA military has carried out 45 airstrikes in Yemen, more strikes than have ever been conducted in any calendar year in that country.

Africa Command Commander General Thomas Waldhauser told reporters on 24 March that approval would allow USA forces to have a "little more flexibility, a little bit more timeliness, in terms of decision-making process".

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A Pentagon spokesman said the White House had approved its request for "additional precision fired".

The decision comes after a year in which militants took some territory back from the Somali government, and as USA and Somali officials prepare for regional peacekeeping forces to begin withdrawing from the country next year.

And in the city of Mosul, Iraq - which ISIS controls part of - USA strikes that Iraqi special forces requested might have killed as many as 200 civilians. His comments came as Trump faced scrutiny over what critics have deemed a lax policy on airstrikes and growing civilian casualties.

The U.S. conducts airstrikes, typically drone strikes, in Somalia under the authority for self-defense and collective self-defense when American advisers accompany AMISOM and Somali government military forces. Hundreds of USA troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the "Black Hawk Down" battle in 1993.

In January dozens of Kenyan troops were killed in an al-Shabaab raid on a Kenyan military base. The new directive labeled swaths of southern Somalia, excluding the capital district of Mogadishu, as war zones. That sets the stage for an intensified pace of combat there, while increasing the risk that American forces could kill civilians.

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