ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.

That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.

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On Oct. 3, 1993, a contingent of U.S. special operations forces deployed consisting of soldiers from the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta and 75 Ranger Regiment, launched what was supposed to be a relatively simple mission: enter the Somali capital of Mogadishu and capture a handful of warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid's top stooges.

The resulting raid, known as the Battle of Mogadishu, was a complete disaster— and everything went sideways with the downing of a MH-60 A/L Black Hawk helicopter that would forever immortalize the mission in American culture as "Black Hawk Down."

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Italian and Somali security forces are seen near armoured vehicles at the scene of an attack on an Italian military convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia September 30, 2019. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Cameras picked up the two white trucks carrying bombs and fighters through the bush towards Somalia's most secure military base, home to U.S. special forces, foreign trainers and the Somali special forces they mentor.

The alarm was raised. By the time the al Shabaab insurgents were a few hundred yards from the perimeter of Baledogle military airfield on Monday, Danaab - Somalia's elite commandos - were waiting, their trainers beside them.

One truck bomb detonated far from the perimeter fence. Eight attackers in uniforms jumped from the other, but Danaab soldiers gunned them down almost immediately, said a Somali security official.

Then the second truck was hit by a U.S. air strike. The explosion was captured on video footage provided to Reuters by two security experts.

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A member of the Italian military stands next to a damaged armored personnel carrier after an attack on a European Union military convoy in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. A Somali police officer says a suicide car bomber has targeted a European Union military convoy carrying Italian military trainers in the Somali capital Monday. (Associated Press/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali insurgents mounted their most ambitious attack yet on Monday on a U.S. special forces base used to train Somali commandos and launch drone strikes, while an Italian military convoy was hit in a separate blast in the capital Mogadishu.

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(Associated Press/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

WASHINGTON — Al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain as much of a threat to the U.S. as "it has ever been" after the terrorist group rebuilt itself while the U.S. and other nations focused on destroying ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a State Department official said Thursday.

"Al-Qaeda has been strategic and patient over the past several years," Nathan Sales, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, said at a briefing in Washington. "It's let ISIS absorb the brunt of the world's counterterrorism efforts while patiently reconstituting itself. What we see today is an al-Qaeda that is as strong as it has ever been."

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President Donald Trump has ramped up airstrikes against al-Shabab in Somalia. (Associated Press/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

The U.S. military could be guilty of war crimes in Somalia, according to a new report that challenges what the government says about civilian casualties from its bombing campaign against al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, in the African nation.

The investigation, conducted by Amnesty International, found that US airstrikes from both drones and manned aircraft killed at least 14 civilians and injured seven more people in just five of more than 100 strikes in the past two years.

"The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes," the Amnesty report said.

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