The United States military denied claims by Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab that American military personnel were injured in an airstrike on Monday.
The U.S. military conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Dar as Salam after Al-Shabaab militants attacked partner forces from a building. The airstrike killed six militants and injured three others.
A statement by the U.S. Africa Command acknowledged that American forces were in the locality to support Somali forces but none of them were casualties in the strike.
“When this airstrike occurred, U.S. forces were in the vicinity in order to advise and assist Somali partner forces. Al-Shabaab falsely claimed U.S. casualties. No U.S. forces were injured or killed during the attack,” AFRICOM said in a statement.
The Al-Qaeda-linked group is known to use propaganda videos and messages to lure in unsuspecting members, build community support, seek media attention and dupe the Somali public, a fact that AFRICOM was quick to point out given this most recent claim.
“Al-Shabaab routinely resorts to the tradecraft of terror, crime, and propaganda to intimidate and seek control of the local populace. Persistent pressure against the al-Shabaab damages their narrative, network, and plans for broader destruction and violence,” Colonel Chris Karns, AFRICOM director of public affairs, said.
In May, AFRICOM flagged a Twitter account for falsely alleging that two civilians were killed in an airstrike in a village called Araboow.
AFRICOM, at the time, responded clarifying that it had not conducted an airstrike in Somalia since April 10.
“This report is not accurate. This may be an example of al-Shabaab using lies and propaganda to spread false civilian casualty allegations in order to grab media attention and deceive the Somali public,” AFRICOM tweeted.
In April, AFRICOM said that Al-Shabaab was increasingly relying on lies and propaganda as it had been weakened by sustained military operations led by the Somali National Army and AMISOM forces.