The head of the U.S. military's Special Operations Command said Wednesday that Air Force gunships, needed to provide close air support for American commandos and U.S.-backed rebel fighters in Syria, were being "jammed" by "adversaries." Calling the electronic warfare environment in Syria "the most aggressive" on earth, Air Force Gen. Tony Thomas told an intelligence conference in Tampa that adversaries "are testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our AC-130s, etc." Thomas' remarks, which were first reported by the website The Drive, come on the heels of reports that Russian forces are jamming U.S. surveillance drones flying over the war-torn nation. An Air Force AC-130 gunship was among the U.S. military aircraft used to kill dozens of Russian mercenaries in Syria in early February. The Pentagon said the mercenaries attacked an outpost manned by American commandos and U.S.-backed fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprising Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters. Wednesday was not the first time General Thomas has been so forthcoming about Syria in a public setting.
AGADEZ, Niger – On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America's battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa's vast Sahel region. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. The base, a few miles outside Agadez and built at the request of Niger's government, will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey. The drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries. Few knew of the American military's presence in this desperately poor, remote West African country until October, when an ambush by Islamic State group-linked extremists killed four U.S. soldiers and five Nigeriens.
SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni tribal leaders say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed seven alleged al-Qaida operatives in the central Marib province. They said Thursday's strike hit a house believed to have been used by the militants. The U.S. is believed to have carried out at least five drone strikes in Yemen since the beginning of March. The tribal leaders spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen affiliate is known, has long been seen as the global network's most dangerous branch.
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Islamic State group's growing presence in Somalia could become a "significant threat" if it attracts fighters fleeing collapsing strongholds in Syria and Iraq, experts say, and already it seems to be influencing local al-Shabab extremists to adopt tactics like beheadings. The U.S. military this month carried out its first drone strikes against IS fighters in Somalia, raising questions about the strength of the group that emerged just two years ago. A second strike targeted the fighters on Sunday, with the U.S. saying "some terrorists" were killed. The Islamic State group burst into public view in Somalia late last year as dozens of armed men seized the port town of Qandala in the northern Puntland region, calling it the seat of the "Islamic Caliphate in Somalia." They beheaded a number of civilians, causing more than 20,000 residents to flee, and held the town for weeks until they were forced out by Somali troops, backed by U.S. military advisers.
MOGADISHU, Somalia – U.S. forces say they have carried out three drone strikes within 24 hours in Somalia, stepping up their campaign against the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab and the Islamic State group. The strikes by unmanned drones killed several extremist fighters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military command in Africa told The Associated Press Sunday. With these three attacks, the U.S. has now carried out 26 attacks in Somalia against extremist targets in 2017, she said. The latest U.S. strikes were carried out in coordination with Somalia's government, she said. The first strike happened Saturday at approximately 4:30 p.m. local Somalia time and it killed one fighter for the extremists group, al-Shabab, said a U.S. Africa command statement.
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The United States military said Saturday it has carried out a new drone strike against the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia, killing "several" militants. A statement by the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out Friday night in Lower Shabelle region, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of the capital, Mogadishu. It came a day after another strike in the Bay Region, about 100 miles west of Mogadishu. Friday's airstrike was the 23rd the U.S. military has carried out this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab and the far smaller Islamic State group in Somalia. The Trump administration earlier this year approved expanded military operations against extremists in the Horn of Africa nation.
'White Widow' Sally Jones reportedly killed in U.S. drone strike; Trace Gallagher reports from Los Angeles. When it came to recruiting foreigners to flee the comforts of home for the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, ISIS succeeded like no other -- encouraging more than 40,000 fighters from more than 110 countries to travel to the fighting fray both before and after the declaration of the "caliphate" in June 2014.
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.
A United States drone strike in Somalia killed one al-Shabab militant Saturday, U.S. military officials announced on Monday. The Department of Defense conducted the strike in southern Somalia in coordination with regional partners, and no civilian casualties were reported, officials said. "Al-Shabab has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorist attacks throughout the world. Al-Shabab has publicly committed to planning and conducting attacks against the U.S. and our allies," U.S. Africa Command said in statement to Fox News. A firefighter tries to extinguish fire after an attack on a restaurant by the militant group al Shabaab.
A U.S. aircraft shot down an armed Iranian drone advancing on coalition forces in southern Syria on Tuesday, Fox News confirmed. The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle about 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces. This is the second the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone in less than a month. The coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS. This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near Coalition forces before it was shot down on June 8.