Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby speaks during a Sept 2 briefing at the Pentagon. (Susan Walsh / AP)
WASHINGTON — The leader of the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group was the target of U.S. military airstrikes that struck an encampment and a vehicle there on Monday night, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said the results of the strike are still being assessed and he can’t confirm if Somali Ahmed Abdi Godane, the rebel leader, was hit.
According to Kirby, the strikes against Godane were conducted by special operations forces using manned and unmanned aircraft. He said the U.S. launched the operation based on “actionable” intelligence, and they struck using several hellfire missiles and precision-guided munitions.
Kirby said the airstrikes “hit what we were aiming at,” and if Godane was killed, it would be a “significant blow” to the organization and its abilities.
Godane is also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr and is the spiritual leader of the al-Qaida-linked group. The U.S. offered a reward of up to $7 million for information leading to his arrest.
The attack took place 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of Mogadishu, where al-Shabab trains its fighters.