The U.S. military says it conducted two drone strikes Thursday against Al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia. The results of the strikes were still being assessed, a statement from the U.S. Africa Command said. The strikes took place near the Banadiir region of Somalia, an area that includes the capital, Mogadishu, the statement said. "We continue to work in coordination with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al-Shabaab and help achieve stability and security throughout the region," the statement said. The strikes were carried out under new authorities that President Trump granted the Pentagon in March.
President Barack Obama is acknowledging that "civilians have been killed that shouldn't have been" in past U.S. drone strikes, but says the administration is now "very cautious" about taking strikes where women or children are present. Asked at a news conference about an increase in the number of people targeted in several drone strikes against extremist targets in Libya, Syria and Somalia, Obama said the "legal architecture" around the use of drone strikes in the past hasn't been precise. But in the last several years, he says, the administration has worked hard to prevent civilian deaths. He says the U.S. has to take responsibility when it is not acting appropriately. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Donald Trump's presidency got off to a bloody start in January, when a special operations forces raid against al-Qaeda in Yemen killed numerous civilians and a US Navy SEAL. The raid was a disaster, but it did not deter the US from launching more attacks using drones and other weapons platforms. In one week earlier this month, the Trump administration conducted about 40 strikes in Yemen, including 25 on a single day. Added to that, there was a drone attack in Pakistan, the first in the country since May 2016. Barack Obama was much criticised for his dramatic escalation of drone strikes in non-battlefield settings such as Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.