Monday April 22, 2019
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Deputy Leader of IS Group in Somalia Killed in Airstrike

Gallan said the strike hit the vehicle Dhoqob and another passenger were travelling in

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islamic state, airstrike
FILE - U.S. Air Force officer passes in front of a MQ-9 Reaper drone, one of a squadron that has arrived to step up the fight against the Taliban, at the Kandahar air base, Afghanistan, Jan. 23, 2018. VOA

Fadumo Yasin contributed to this report from Bosaso in Puntland.

The deputy leader of the Islamic State group in Somalia has been killed in an airstrike, a Somali regional minister told VOA.

Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan, security Minister of the Puntland region, told VOA Somali the airstrike that killed Abdihakim Mohamed Ibrahim, known as Dhoqob, took place Sunday between the villages of Hol Anod and Hiriro.

Gallan said the strike hit the vehicle Dhoqob and another passenger were travelling in. He said both men were killed but the other person has not yet been identified.

airstrike, IS
IS has 200-300 men in Somalia according to experts. Al-Shabab and IS have recently been fighting in the eastern mountainous areas since December last year. VOA

“The vehicle was burned,” said a witness who didn’t want to be named.

IS Somalia is led by Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, a former scholar for al-Shabab. In October 2015 he defected from the group and pledged his allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Dhoqob was Mumin’s right-hand-man and has appeared in videos produced by the group. Mumin himself survived another airstrike in his mountainous hideout in Bari region in November 2017.

“Killing one of their top leaders will speed up their eradication,” Gallan said.

airstrike, IS
Gallan said the strike hit the vehicle Dhoqob and another passenger were travelling in. VOA

Puntland officials have not commented on who carried out the attack but the U.S. military in Africa has been conducting relentless strikes against militants in Somalia. This year alone, U.S. has carried out more than 30 airstrikes, all of them against al-Shabab.

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IS has 200-300 men in Somalia according to experts. Al-Shabab and IS have recently been fighting in the eastern mountainous areas since December last year.

Al-Shabab has vowed to eliminate its rival IS, accusing it of “dividing the jihadists.” Security officials told VOA Somali that IS has lost some of its territory to al-Shabab. (VOA)

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Airstrike Escalates Fighting in Libya, Authorities Close Tripoli’s Only Functioning Airport

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

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Libya
Libyan protesters attend a demonstration to demand an end to the Khalifa Haftar's offensive against Tripoli, in Martyrs' Square in central Tripoli, Libya, April 19, 2019. VOA

Explosions shook the Libyan capital Tripoli late Saturday after an airstrike, residents said, in an escalation of a two-week offensive by eastern forces on the city held by the internationally recognized government.

A Reuters reporter and several interviewed residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital with a humming sound before opening fire on a southern suburb, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Reuters was unable to confirm whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in the past days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district.

Members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces fire during fighting with Eastern forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli, Libya, April 20, 2019.
Members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces fire during fighting with Eastern forces in Ain Zara, Tripoli, Libya, April 20, 2019. VOA

Haftar stymied

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed, this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Moammar Gadhafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

Tripoli, Libya
Tripoli, Libya

​In the past the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have supported Haftar with airstrikes during campaigns to take eastern Libya. Both countries flew airstrikes on Tripoli in 2014 during a different conflict to help a Haftar-allied force, U.S. officials said at the time.

Since 2014 the UAE and Egypt have provided the LNA with military equipment such as aircraft and helicopters, helping Haftar to gain the upper hand in Libya’s eight-year conflict, past U.N. reports have established.

The UAE even built an air base in Al Khadim in eastern Libya, one such report said in 2017.

The air strikes, which were also filmed by residents in video posted online, came after a day of heavy clashes in southern districts, with shelling audible in the city center.

A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord fires a rocket propelled grenade during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara, April 20, 2019.
A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord fires a rocket propelled grenade during clashes with forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli’s suburb of Ain Zara, April 20, 2019. VOA

Trump’s call to Haftar

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump spoke by with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a U.S. statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers and the Gulf have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 220 people and wounded 1,066, the World Heath organization (WHO) said.

It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce Monday’s phone call.

UN cease-fire

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time.

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Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya. (IANS)