US airstrikes against an al-Shabab training facility in Somalia killed over 150 people on Saturday. In an announcement Monday, the Pentagon classified the dead as "militant fighters" or "terrorists" who were allegedly preparing a large-scale attack against US and African diplomatic personnel.
The attack was carried out by multiple drones and manned aircraft launching missiles and bombs on "Raso Camp." The US had monitored the facility for weeks prior to the attack, according to Pentagon spokesman Jeffrey Davis.
News of the attack comes as the White House announced Monday that it will disclose the death count of its controversial drone operations under President Barack Obama. Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters that the death count will be released "in the coming weeks" as part of the administration’s transparency commitment.
In subsequent years, the US announced that death counts associated with America’s drone warfare would be released annually, but the decision to maintain that commitment ultimately rests with the next US President.
The report is to include both combatant and civilian deaths in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and other locations in North Africa where the US is not engaged in a "hot war," nor where the US Congress has authorized a war under which the killings can be legally conducted.
The report, however, will not cover areas of "active hostilities" including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. In the past year, the US has escalated drone strike operations in Iraq and Syria as an attempt to contain Daesh activity.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated, "There will obviously be some limitations on where we can be transparent, given a variety of sensitivities – including diplomatic."
International humanitarian groups, including Human Rights Watch, have for over five years called for the US to stop its targeted killing drone operations outside of active war zones, and to release data on the death toll. These organizations, along with international media outlets, contend that the US miscategorizes civilian deaths as those of combatants.