The top U.N. envoy to Somalia says U.S. airstrikes and major ground offensives by pro-government forces have led to the liberation of nearly 20 Somali towns from al-Shabab militants and have brought the country closer to full federal control.
Special U.N. representative Nicholas Kay, speaking to VOA, cited "considerable success" in the 2014 push against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab. He also noted political progress in ending the nearly nine-year uprising.
Kay's interview came as regional news outlets reported the January 1 killing of al-Shabab commander Ibrahim Filey near the southern town of Kurtun Waarey. U.N.-backed radio Bar-Kulan said three other militants were also killed in the confrontation with Somali forces, but the report did not provide details.
On Tuesday, Somali authorities said al-Shabab fighters killed six Somali soldiers in Baidoa, in an attack on a military checkpoint about 250 kilometers west of Mogadishu.
Separately, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that a U.S. airstrike killed al-Shabab security chief Tahil Abdishakur on December 29 near the town of Saakow.
A U.S. airstrike in September killed al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.