US forces killed two Shabaab militants in a strike near Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, according to a US Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM) press release today. US forces conducted a strike in the same location earlier this month.
Kunyo Barrow is located in the Jubba River Valley, a stronghold of the al Qaeda affiliate. According to the State Department’s most recent counterterrorism report “Shabaab kept much of its safe haven in the Jubba River Valley as a primary base of operations for plotting and launching attacks throughout Somalia and northern Kenya. The group maintained control of several towns throughout the Jubaland region, including Jilib and Kunyo Barow, and increased its base of operations in the Gedo region to exploit the porous Kenya-Somalia border and attack targets in northeastern Kenya.”
The reality is that Shabaab’s reach extends across the country. Earlier this month, AFRICOM targeted a large concentration of Shabaab fighters nearly 500 miles north of the group’s Jubaland stronghold.
US forces have conducted 28 strikes against Shabaab in 2018, Maj. Karl J. Wiest confirmed to Long War Journal over email. AFRICOM is on track to meet or exceed last year’s record high.