US military launches series of strikes in Yemen and Somalia
The Associated Press
People gather at the site of a Saudi-led airstrike near Yemen's Defense Ministry complex in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)
By Ryan Browne
(CNN) -- The US military conducted a series of airstrikes targeting terrorists in Somalia and Yemen over the weekend, according to multiple military officials.
The US military conducted three strikes against ISIS in Yemen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, killing five suspected militants, US Central Command spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told CNN Monday.
Jacques said all three strikes took place in Yemen's Al Bayda Governorate, an area known for ISIS and al Qaeda activity.
A US military official told CNN that the strikes were carried out by unmanned drone aircraft and that the military is still assessing the results of the strikes.
The series of strikes over the weekend are only the third time the US has struck the ISIS affiliate in Yemen.
Armed US drones also carried out a series of airstrikes targeting al Qaeda- and ISIS-linked militants in Somalia over the weekend.
"US forces conducted five airstrikes in Somalia against al-Shabaab and ISIS from November 9 through the 12, removing more than 40 terrorists from the battlefield," Defense Department spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.
Al-Shabaab is al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia. Thursday's strikes against ISIS in Somalia marked the second time US forces have struck the terror group in the country.
Manning said 36 al-Shabaab fighters and four ISIS militants were killed in the strikes.
One of the five strikes in Somalia killed an al-Shabaab fighter who had attacked a joint US-Somali military convoy in Gaduud, Somalia, which is about 250 miles from the capital Mogadishu.
The attack on the convoy involved "ineffective" small arms fire and resulted in no US personnel being killed or wounded, Robyn Mack, a spokesperson for Africa Command, told CNN.
The US has about 500 troops in Somalia including Special Operations Forces working as military advisers and conventional logistics personnel.
The emergence of ISIS affiliates in Yemen and Somalia in recent weeks comes as the terror organization has suffered multiple battlefield setbacks in Syria and Iraq.
"ISIS uses the ungoverned areas in Yemen as safe space to plot, direct, inspire, resource and recruit for attacks," Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman told CNN.
"As its physical 'caliphate' is being taken away by America's capable and committed partners in Syria and Iraq, ISIS is attempting to make use of ungoverned, safe spaces across the globe to recruit and train militants to coordinate external terror attacks worldwide," he added.