The United States carried out an air strike in Somalia over the weekend that killed approximately 150 militants belonging to the terror group al Shabaab, the Pentagon said Monday.
The air strike was carried out Saturday at the al Qaeda-linked terror group’s "Raso" training facility, which is located about 120 miles north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, Reuters reported. U.S. officials said that the fighters were training for a large-scale attack against American Special Operations forces and their allies in the region.
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"We know they were going to be departing the camp and that they posed an imminent threat to U.S. and to Amisom, African Union mission in Somalia forces, that are in Somalia," Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said.
Davis described the strike as an "air operation" and said no U.S. forces participated on the ground.
The Defense Department had been monitoring the training camp for weeks leading up to the air strike and had evidence that the militants posed an imminent threat to American troops and their allies. Davis refused to provide specific information about who or what the group may have been intending to target.
"Their removal will degrade al Shabaab’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Somalia, which include recruiting new members, establishing bases, and planning attacks on U.S. and Amisom forces there," Davis stated.
The Pentagon spokesman added that up to 200 fighters were present at the training camp when the strike occurred. The Defense Department is confident that no civilians were killed.
It is believed that the al Shabaab operatives were struck during a graduation ceremony, the New York Times reported. One official said that the fighters were "standing outdoors in formation."
Al Shabaab militants have claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks across the region, including the 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Kenya and, more recently, the February attack on the SYL hotel in Mogadishu.