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Trump Authorizes Pre-Emptive Somalia Airstrikes in Latest US Military Escalation

Sputnik News

18:38 31.03.2017

US President Donald Trump has ramped up US military operations in Somalia, authorizing pre-emptive airstrikes against the terror group al-Shabaab. Less than three months into his presidency, President Trump has also increased the US involvement in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to stop embroiling the US in costly foreign wars.

However, since his inauguration, the president has been busy increasing the activities of the US military across the globe. Somalia joins the list of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

"The additional support provided by this authority will help deny al-Shabaab safe havens from which it could attack US citizens or US interests in the region," Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement.

President Trump has labeled Somalia an "area of active hostilities" and authorized the US military to conduct pre-emptive "precision airstrikes" in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia and the Somalia National Army, which has been suffering heavy losses in the entrenched battle against Islamist insurgents.

Under the former administration of President Barack Obama, the US had only been able to employ air-strikes against al-Shabaab militants in self-defense situations when African Union or Somali government troops accompanied by US advisers, came under attack.

The official grade of certainty that civilians won't be killed has been lowered from "near certainty" to "reasonable certainty."

Just days after taking the presidential oath, Trump re-classified Yemen in the same way. Since then, the US military has carried out 45 airstrikes in Yemen, more than have ever been conducted in any year in the country.

However, US defense officials have insisted that the changes would not result in a relaxing of procedures to prevent civilian casualties.

Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the head of US Africa Command, supported President Trump's decision to step up the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia..

"It's very important and very helpful for us to have little more flexibility, a little bit more timeliness, in terms of decision-making process," Gen. Waldhauser said.

In response to questions about the role of the US military, Trump told a group of senators this week that the US was "doing very well" in Iraq.

"The results are very, very good," the president repeated.

It's not yet clear what impact increased air power will have on the spread of radical Islam in Somalia, or the wider region.


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