WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday defended his administration’s regular use of drones or other airstrikes to target terror leaders or training camps in Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
Obama acknowledged that in the past the strikes had sometimes inadvertently killed civilians, but procedures for approving such strikes has improved.
“There has been in the past legitimate criticism that the architecture, the legal architecture around the use of drone strikes or other kinetic strikes wasn’t as precise as it should have been, and there’s no doubt that civilians were killed that shouldn’t have been,” Obama said at a press conference at the end of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.
“What I can say with great confidence is that our operating procedures are as rigorous as they have ever been and that there is a constant evaluation of precisely what we do,” Obama said. He did not offer specifics.
Obama’s remarks came after the U.S. military said Friday it conducted an airstrike a day earlier targeting a senior terrorist leader in Somalia.
The airstrike Thursday was aimed at Hassan Ali Dhoore, an operational commander of al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked terror group, who was involved in planning a number of attacks, including some that resulted in the deaths of three Americans, the Pentagon said.
“In addition to being part of al-Qaeda, Hassan Ali Dhoore was a member of al-Shabab’s Amniyat (security and intelligence) wing and was heavily involved in high profile attack planning in Mogadishu,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Pentagon said officials were still assessing the results of the operations to determine if he died in the strike, but said killing him would be a “significant blow” to the terror group’s operations and ability to conduct attacks.
The Pentagon said Dhoore played a role in the Dec. 25, 2014, attack on Mogadishu International Airport that killed several African Union personnel and a U.S. citizen. The statement said he was also responsible for the March 27, 2015 attack on the Maka al-Mukarram Hotel in Mogadishu that killed 15 people.
Dhoore was planning to attack U.S. citizens in Mogadishu, the statement said.
Last month the Pentagon launched a strike that killed up to 150 militants at a terrorist training camp in Somalia,
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