The Libyan National Army has been battling ISIS in the cities of Sirte and Benghazi. The U.S. military has launched airstrikes this month in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Friday, for the first time since September, in Libya. According to a defense official, the drone strike in the desert of central Libya Friday killed "several" ISIS militants in a sign the Pentagon may be ramping up pressure on terror groups in Africa. The most recent strike comes a year after the military launched nearly 500 airstrikes against ISIS in the coastal city of Sirte, located halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi. The September strike killed 17 ISIS fighters.
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.
TEHRAN, Iran – The website of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard reports that a pilot has died after his Sukhoi-22 jet fighter-bomber crashed in the country's south. The Saturday report on sepahnews.com said the plane was taking part in a morning exercise in southern Fars province when it crashed. Iran has a history of air accidents blamed on its aging aircraft and poor maintenance. Iran has both Russian-made and U.S.-made fighter planes. The U.S. aircraft were delivered to Tehran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the western-backed monarchy.
MOGADISHU, Somalia – A U.S. drone strike killed "several militants" with al-Shabab in Somalia, the military said, as the Trump administration increasingly targets what has become the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa. The strike was carried out Thursday afternoon in the Bay Region, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of the capital, Mogadishu, according to a statement by the U.S. Africa Command. A spokeswoman told The Associated Press that no civilians were anywhere near the strike. The U.S. military says it has carried out 22 airstrikes this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab and the smaller Islamic State group presence in Somalia after the Trump administration approved expanded military efforts. The U.S. says the latest airstrike, like others, occurred in cooperation with Somalia's government.
As questions continue to mount about the Niger firefight that killed four U.S. soldiers in early October, here's a timeline on what happened based on new details from the Department of Defense. U.S. military officials sought permission to send an armed drone near a patrol of Green Berets before a deadly ambush Oct. 4 in Niger, but the request was blocked, raising questions about whether those forces had adequate protection against the dangers of their mission. New information shows the Green Beret team was part of a larger mission, one potentially more dangerous than initially described, and one believed to merit an armed drone. But the request was blocked in a chain of approval that snakes through the Pentagon, State Department and the Nigerien government, according to officials briefed on the events. One focus of military investigations into what happened in Niger will be what a military official now says were two changes in the mission of the Green Beret team--from initially training Nigerien forces, to advising on a mission to capture or kill a wanted terrorist, to investigating the terrorist's abandoned camp.
'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. Subsequently, authorities have warned about the threat of returning jihadists to their homeland and since the falls of Mosul, Raqqa and the rapidly receding footprint of ISIS, such fears have come to the forefront. According to a new report, "Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees," released this week by the Soufan Center -- a Washington-based security intelligence consultancy -- there are now at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries who have returned home -- accounting for about 15 percent of the fighters. FILE - In this file picture taken on Friday, July 21, 2017, Kurdish soldiers from the Anti-Terrorism Units, carry a blindfolded an Indonesian man suspected of Islamic State membership, at a security center, in Kobani, Syria.
RAQQA, Syria – Drone footage from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa shows the extent of devastation caused by weeks of fighting between Kurdish-led forces and the Islamic State group. Footage from Thursday shows the bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lay piled on streets littered with destroyed cars. Entire neighborhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life. The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces announced they have driven Islamic State group militants out of the city after weeks of fighting. The spokesman for the coalition, Col. Ryan Dillon, tweeted on Thursday that the SDF has cleared 98 percent of the city, adding that some militants remain holed up in a small pocket east of the city's athletic stadium.
The ambush in Niger earlier this month that left four U.S. troops dead has been the subject of immense speculation, not only concerning President Trump's public response to the tragedy but also about what actually happened on the ground that day. Asked by Fox News on Capitol Hill if the administration has been forthcoming about the attack, Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., replied, "of course not" and added, "it may require a subpoena." Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that the attack is under investigation. A dozen U.S. Army soldiers, mostly Green Berets, along with 30 Nigerians, traveled 125 miles north of Niger's capital, Niamey, in unarmored trucks on a routine mission and to meet with local village elders in Tonga Tonga, near the border with Mali, on Oct. 4. U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson was killed when his patrol was ambushed in Niger.