USA: Pentagon Denies Scaling Back Operations in Somalia

A man walks past destroyed buildings after a large blast in the capital city of Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Police say a suicide car bomb exploded near the presidential palace killing and injuring a number of people. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
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The U.S. Defense Department is denying a media report the U.S. is planning to reduce its operations in Somalia.

Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Commander Candice Tresch told VOA Friday: “There have been no recent policy changes regarding U.S. operations in Somalia. We continue to support the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to degrade al-Shabab.”

NBC News reported Friday the U.S. is planning to scale back its operations in Somalia because U.S. airstrikes have “taken out” a number of the militant group’s senior operatives.

The Pentagon says “the U.S. conducted 47 precision airstrikes in 2018 against al-Shabab militants. In 2017, the U.S. conducted 35 air strikes and in 2016, conducted 15 air strikes. The first U.S.-led air strike of 2019 occurred Jan. 2 to diminish al-Shabab’s freedom of movement and to increase pressure on the terrorist network in the area.”

U.S. military officials say there are and estimated 3,000 to 7,000 al-Shabab fighters and 70 to 250 ISIS-Somalia fighters in Somalia as of August 2018.

There are about 500 U.S. Department of Defense personnel in Somalia.

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