Amid Syria's five-year-old civil war and Iraq's push to expel the Islamic State group from its major cities, President Barack Obama has quietly reneged on promises of "no boots on the ground" in recent years. But another American ground battle lingers just outside of the spotlight, in Somalia. A campaign involving private contractors, drone strikes and up to 300 U.S. Special Operations troops against the al Qaeda offshoot group al-Shabab has been escalating there over the past year, the New York Times reported Sunday, citing "senior American military officials." Operations in the country, located in the eastern "Horn of Africa," are expected to expand, according to the Times, on top of efforts that have involved the Navy's SEAL Team 6, weekly raids with troops from nearby Kenya and Uganda and interrogation of prisoners. The American use of force there hasn't exactly been welcome.
One of the top leaders of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror organization in Somalia was killed Thursday when the U.S. military launched an airstrike from a drone, the Pentagon says. The al-Shabab official, Hassan Ali Dhoore, was specifically targeted by U.S. forces for his alleged role in two separate attacks in the capital city of Mogadishu, according to a U.S. Defense Department statement Friday. Al-Shabab denied the U.S. account, but the Somali prime minister's office confirmed the airstrike. Al-Shabab, an Islamic extremist group of militants, has been terrorizing the region for about the past decade and typically targets the Somali government, as exemplified by Thursday's suicide bombing that took place as the assailant hugged a local official.