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A NASA image shows the East African nations of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia, as well as portions of Kenya, Sudan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, as seen on Nov. 29, 2000.

A NASA image shows the East African nations of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia, as well as portions of Kenya, Sudan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, as seen on Nov. 29, 2000. (NASA)

WASHINGTON — A series of American airstrikes in recent days killed 17 al-Qaida-linked fighters in Somalia and Yemen, according to U.S. military spokesmen.

Two counterterrorism airstrikes last week in Yemen killed four al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula fighters, said Army Maj. Josh T. Jacques, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. The strikes Monday and Wednesday in Somalia were in defense of Somali government soldiers and U.S. special operations advisers accompanying them who were attacked by al-Shabab militants, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. Those strikes killed 13 al-Shabab fighters.

The United States is conducting a credibility assessment of accusations that the most recent of those strikes, the Wednesday attack in central Somalia, killed allied Somali troops, Davis said. A local government official in Galmudug, where the strike occurred, accused the United States of errantly killing 22 of the nation’s soldiers in the attack, according to Reuters. Another local government official denied the strike killed allied Somali troops, according to the same report.

“We will look at the reports to see if they’re credible, and if they are credible we will investigate them,” Davis said.

The strike Wednesday was requested by Somali soldiers who were attacked by al-Shabab small arms fire during a mission to destroy the al-Qaida-linked group’s local bomb-making network. It was not clear if any Somali soldiers were injured, but no American troops were hurt, Davis said.

That strike killed nine al-Shabab militants, he added. The strike Monday killed four al-Shabab fighters in southern Somalia, after Somali soldiers were attacked by the militants. No American troops came under direct fire during that incident, Davis said.

The strikes in Yemen occured in the central part of that nation Sept. 20 and Sept. 22, Jacques said. Both airstrikes killed two fighters.

“These were al-Qaida operatives who continue to support their organization’s destabilizing effects in Yemen,” Jacques said in a statement. “U.S. Central Command continues to protect the U.S., its allies and partners from these threats by denying Yemen as a haven” for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.
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