File photo shows people carry the body of a victim after an explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia, April 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Faisal Isse)
NAIROBI, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) on Monday denied conducting air strikes against Al-Shabaab in southwest Somalia on Saturday in which more than 100 militants including 20 commanders were killed.
Africom, which has in the past conducted counter-terrorism airstrikes against the terror group in Somalia, said its most recent strike in the Horn of Africa nation was conducted in January.
"The U.S. military did not conduct any kind of kinetic action in that area during the timeframe referenced. The most recent U.S. strike in Somalia was conducted in January," Africom said in a statement.
According to Africom, Washington routinely works with allies and partners in coordinated efforts to address regional security and stability matters.
"We appreciate the Federal Government of Somalia partnership and its support in our collective efforts to address security and stability in the region. An example of this cooperation is the recent start of a logistics training program," it said.
The U.S. military said a few dozen troops from the 101st Airborne Division will conduct various security cooperation and security force assistance events in Somalia at the request of the Somalia government.
"The objective of this particular train and equip mission is to improve the logistical capacity of the Somali National Army, and the focus will be on teaching basic logistics operations, which will allow Somalia forces to better fight Al-Shabaab," Africom said.
The U.S. soldiers will join the small number of U.S. special operations forces already there providing counterterrorism support to local forces battling Al-Shabaab.
Residents including security officers said on Saturday that the warplanes targeted the militants' hideouts in Wargaduud and El-Adde where some Kenyan soldiers were killed by the militants in January 2016.
Among senior Al-Shabaab commanders killed in the Saturday's dawn attack are Abdirahman Fillow and Abdirahman Ben Dutie.
The air strikes also destroyed two vehicles bound explosive devices (VBIED) at Wargaduud. Dutie is from Marehanrer Dalal section.
The U.S. maintains a small force unit of about 50 troops in Somalia mainly to advise and assist Somalia and AMISOM troops battling Al-Shabaab militants.
Though they are not in Somalia to conduct combat operations, when called in, their helicopters, drones and manned aircraft are available for quick reaction air strikes.