US officials: Airstrike killed 13 terrorists in Somalia

US officials: Airstrike killed 13 terrorists in Somalia

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WASHINGTON, D. C. (CNN) — A U.S. airstrike on Christmas Eve against the militant group al Shabaab in southern Somalia killed 13, U.S. Africa Command said Wednesday.

The U.S. said its forces conducted the airstrike in coordination with the government of Somalia and identified the 13 killed as terrorists.

"U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect the United States, its partners and interests, and deny safe haven to terrorist groups," Africa Command said in a statement on the strike.

Earlier in December, a State Department official told CNN the U.S. is cutting some military aid to Somalia due to allegations of misuse, a move that comes as the U.S. has become more involved in Somalia, fighting the militant groups al Shabaab and ISIS with airstrikes and having some 500 U.S. troops in the area to advise local forces.

U.S. Africa Command said last month a U.S. strike in Somalia killed more than 100 people it identified as al Shabaab militants. That strike came shortly after the U.S. conducted its first known strike targeting ISIS in Somalia.

Since President Donald Trump took office, the number of U.S. airstrikes in Somalia and the war-torn country of Yemen have increased, according to a tally from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Long War Journal. Sunday's strike is the U.S.' 34th in Somalia since Trump took office.

U.S. military operations in Africa have likewise taken on a heightened degree of scrutiny in the opening year of the Trump presidency, particularly after an ambush in Niger resulted in the death of four U.S. service members in October.

Amid growing questions about what went wrong during the deadly mission, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said the U.S. forces are in "about 53 different countries" in Africa.

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