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US military confirms ISIS-Somalia deputy killed in strike

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A U.S. airstrike Sunday killed the second in command of the Somali branch of ISIS, the U.S. military said Monday.

The airstrike happened near Xiriiro in the Bari region of northeastern Somalia, U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said in a statement, assessing that the strike killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub and destroyed one vehicle.

“As second-in-command of ISIS-Somalia, Dhuqub was responsible for the daily operations of the extremist group, attack planning and resource procurement,” the release said.

Dhuqub helped set up the first cell of an ideological predecessor to al-Shabaab in 2004, according to the United Nations. He later defected to the ISIS‘s Somali branch.

The Somali branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is comparatively small, estimated to be about 150 to 200 fighters. 

U.S. forces first launched strikes against ISIS-Somalia in November 2017.

“We continue to work with our Somali partners to keep pressure on the al-Shabaab and ISIS Somalia terror networks,” Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, Africom director of operations, said in Monday’s news release. “When it supports the strategy, we use precision airstrikes to target those who plan and carry out the violent extremist activities that put Somalis at risk.”

The U.S. military says that no civilians were killed or injured in Sunday’s strike, but Africom added that its “process and procedures allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis.”

Africom recently acknowledged two civilians were killed in an April 2018 airstrike against al-Shabaab after repeatedly insisting all its strikes in Somalia had killed no civilians.

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