Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM341

Incident date

August 24, 2021

Location

Cammaara, Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

5.264930, 47.914108 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

The brief recapture by al Shabaab of the strategic town of Amara on the morning of August 24th was reversed by Somali ground forces, assisted by a US airstrike. Several militants were killed in the strike, according to the Somali government.

Amara had been held by al Shabaab for more than a decade, until its capture by Somali government forces on August 3rd 2021 – part of a wider ground offensive in Galmudug State.

Beginning around dawn on August 24th, Shabaab had then launched a major operation to regain the town. It claimed to have killed multiple Somali government forces including elite Danab fighters. Among those reported killed was a senior commander named as Ahmed Abdi Micy. Al Shabaab also claimed to have captured more than a dozen ‘technicals.’

According to Reuters, “Residents of Amara in the Galmudug region said the morning assault started with a suicide bomb attack which targeted government special force units, known as Danab and Darawish… Asmail Nur, another resident, confirmed the attack and said al Shabaab captured 11 armoured vehicles and burned seven others.”

At 10.52am according to Sonna state media, an airstrike targeted Shabaab forces just outside Amara, as part of a successful government counter offensive. “This strike was successful and killed several al-Shabaab terrorists,” Sonna reported. As many as 90 Shabaab militants were alleged killed in the overall fighting.

AFRICOM itself finally declared the strike that evening, though made no mention of specific casualties – either civilian or militant. Its official statement asserted that the strike had been ” a collective self-defense strike against al-Shabaab fighters engaged in active combat with our Somali partners in the vicinity of Cammaara, Somalia, on Aug. 24. U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under the 2001 Authorization of Use for Military Force.”

The incident occured at 10:52 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (9) [ collapse]

  • Amara in Galmudug, following an al Shabaab attack on the morning of August 24th 2021 (via Shabelle Media Network)
  • Ahmed Abdi Micy, a senior Somali commander reportedly killed by al Shabaab on August 24th 2021 (Via Mohammed Hussein)
  • 'AS militia forces tried to carry out attacks in the area in Amara has faced heavy loss. Zaynab has also pledged to press on the scene of a total number of 90 terrorists killed'
  • Image released by Somali National Armed Forces in association with an August 24th 2021 action at Amara
  • Image released by Somali National Armed Forces in association with an August 24th 2021 action at Amara
  • AFRTICOM statement on its August 24th 2021 airstrike at Amara, Somalia

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Cammaara, for which the generic coordinates are: 5.264930, 47.914108. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike against al-Shabaab fighters engaged in active combat with our Somali partners in the vicinity of Cammaara, Somalia, on Aug. 24.

U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under the 2001 Authorization of Use for Military Force.

A battle-damage assessment is still pending due to the ongoing engagement between al-Shabaab and Somali forces. The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command forces take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. These efforts contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabaab regularly conducts against the civilian population.

The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. remain committed to fighting al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. Violent extremist organizations like al-Shabaab present long-term threats to the U.S. and regional interests.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM340

Incident date

August 1, 2021

Location

Between Qaycad town and Xarardheere , Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

4.82888, 47.923205 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

In its latest actions in support of Somali ground forces, AFRICOM confirmed that it had conducted airstrikes on al Shabaab positions “in the vicinity of Qeycad” on August 1st.

Statements published by both the Somali Ministry of Information and Galmudug State referred to two separate strikes, which Airwars is therefore treating as separate events.

Galmudug State reported the following: “A strike targeted a military base housing al Shabaab militants between Qay’ad and Hareri-dere.”

Separately, the MOI stated that “At 1022 a.m. & 1101 a.m. air strikes occurred b/w Bacadweyne & Camara towns near Wisil town in #Galmudug State in support of a #Danab operation resulting in zero civilian casualties”. It went on to add that “The airstrikes destroyed a large al-Shabab firing position engaging Danab and SNA forces as they approached”. Airwars has treated the action between Bacadweyne and Camara as a separate event (USSOM339).

The US actions – the third and fourth in just eleven days – were once again in support of Somali ground forces fighting al Shabaab for control of towns and villages around Qeycad. According to AFRICOM, “There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces.”

AFRICOM also asserted that the command’s “initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.” There were also no known local reports of civilian harm.

Pro al Shabaab source Somali Memo tweeted on the Sunday morning that “Forces of the Islamic State of Mudug strongly defend Qeycad after air and ground attacks,” with a more detailed online report asserting that “Reports from the outskirts of Ba’adweyne area say that heavy fighting broke out in the early hours of today near Qeycad village. The fighting came after US-trained militias attacked the defenses of the Islamic State of Mudug between Ba’adweyne and Qeycad. Sources say that after an hour of fighting, the Ashamud militia were defeated and later returned to their base in Ba’adweyne. The report added that US drones had taken part in the airstrikes, but no casualties were reported.”

Somaliweyn also claimed that al Shabaab had attempted to retaliate against the US strikes: “Two rockets were reportedly fired at a fighter jet on the outskirts of Qaycad in Mudug region, where Somali government and Galmudug forces are also conducting operations.”

An image published by Radio Muqdisho on the day appeared to show an airstrike in progress.

In a followup statement, Sonna state media claimed the following day that the Somali National Army backed by Galmudug State forces had killed 200 Al-Shabaab militants in their ongoing military operations in Mudug region, destroying what were described as 16 “terrorist bases” and capturing four towns and eight villages.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Somali forces in the vicinity of Qeycud August 1st 2021 (via Radio Moqdisho)
  • An apparent US airstrike in the vicinity of Qeycud, August 1st 2021 (via Radio Moqdisho)
  • Official statement from the Somali Ministry of Information on the August 1st US strikes on al Shabaab

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the area between the town of Qeycad and the boundary of Xarardheere. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for a middle point between these two locations are: 4.82888, 47.923205.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Qeycad, Somalia August 1.

There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces. U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under the 2001 Authorization of Use for Military Force.

The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. These efforts contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabaab regularly conducts against the civilian population.

The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. remain committed to fighting al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

Violent extremist organizations like al-Shabaab present long-term threats to U.S. and regional interests.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM339

Incident date

August 1, 2021

Location

Between Bacaadweyn and Camara, vicinity of Wisil, Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

5.211400, 47.902792 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

In its latest actions in support of Somali ground forces, AFRICOM confirmed that it had conducted airstrikes on al Shabaab positions “in the vicinity of Qeycad” on August 1st.

Statements published by both the Somali Ministry of Information and Galmudug State referred to two separate strikes, which Airwars is therefore treating as separate events. According to the MOI: “At 1022 a.m. & 1101 a.m. air strikes occurred b/w Bacadweyne & Camara towns near Wisil town in #Galmudug State in support of a #Danab operation resulting in zero civilian casualties”. It went on to add that “The airstrikes destroyed a large al-Shabab firing position engaging Danab and SNA forces as they approached”.

Galmudug State also reported a strike elsewhere: “A strike targeted a military base housing al Shabaab militants between Qay’ad and Hareri-dere.” Airwars has treated this as a separate event (USSOM340).

The US actions – the third and fourth in just eleven days – were once again in support of Somali ground forces fighting al Shabaab for control of towns and villages around Qeycad. According to AFRICOM, “There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces.”

AFRICOM also asserted that the command’s “initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.” There were also no known local reports of civilian harm.

Pro al Shabaab source Somali Memo tweeted on the Sunday morning that “Forces of the Islamic State of Mudug strongly defend Qeycad after air and ground attacks,” with a more detailed online report asserting that “Reports from the outskirts of Ba’adweyne area say that heavy fighting broke out in the early hours of today near Qeycad village. The fighting came after US-trained militias attacked the defenses of the Islamic State of Mudug between Ba’adweyne and Qeycad. Sources say that after an hour of fighting, the Ashamud militia were defeated and later returned to their base in Ba’adweyne. The report added that US drones had taken part in the airstrikes, but no casualties were reported.”

Somaliweyn also claimed that al Shabaab had attempted to retaliate against the US strikes: “Two rockets were reportedly fired at a fighter jet on the outskirts of Qaycad in Mudug region, where Somali government and Galmudug forces are also conducting operations.”

An image published by Radio Muqdisho on the day appeared to show an airstrike in progress.

In a followup statement, Sonna state media claimed the following day that the Somali National Army backed by Galmudug State forces had killed 200 Al-Shabaab militants in their ongoing military operations in Mudug region, destroying what were described as 16 “terrorist bases” and capturing four towns and eight villages.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Somali forces in the vicinity of Qeycud August 1st 2021 (via Radio Moqdisho)
  • An apparent US airstrike in the vicinity of Qeycud, August 1st 2021 (via Radio Moqdisho)
  • Official statement from the Somali Ministry of Information on the August 1st US strikes on al Shabaab

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the area between the villages of Bacaadweyne and Camara, both in the vicinity of Wisil. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for a middle point between these two locations are: 5.211400, 47.902792.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Qeycad, Somalia August 1.

There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces. U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under the 2001 Authorization of Use for Military Force.

The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. These efforts contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabaab regularly conducts against the civilian population.

The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. remain committed to fighting al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

Violent extremist organizations like al-Shabaab present long-term threats to U.S. and regional interests.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM338

Incident date

July 25, 2021

Location

Between Qaycad town and Xarardheere district, Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

4.82888, 47.923205 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

The US conducted its second airstrike within four days against Al Shabab fighters in the Qay’ad area between Qaycad town and Xarardheere district on July 23, 2021 at 10:21AM.

According to Morad News, the US airstrike was in support of Somali forces involved in fighting with Al Shabab fighters as they were trying to capture Qay’ad.

The Somali Ministry of Information released a statement that “at 10:21 in Galmudug state between Qaycad town and Xarardheere district an airstrike has crippled the al-Shabaab terrorist. The precision strike only destroyed al-Shabaab fighters and weapons with zero civilian casualties.”

The US confirmed that it carried out the strike. AFRICOM released a statement saying “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Qeycad, Galmudug, Somalia today. There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces.”

@jseldin, correspondent for Voice of America, reported that “@PentagonPresSec tells @VOANews’s @CarlaBabbVOA, other reporters traveling w/@SecDef that like Tuesday’s strike, US troops executed the strike while working w/Somali forces remotely.”

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told VOA and other reporters traveling aboard a US military aircraft with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that Friday’s strike was carried out in support of Somali forces near the village of Qeycad. He said the strike was permitted by the powers granted by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. Kirby added that just as with the earlier airstrike that week, US troops were not on the ground with Somali forces but were conducting a remote advise-and-assist mission. Further information was not provided because of “operational security.”

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin further justified the need for the strikes in a statement that asserted: “Most recently what’s happened is our partner forces have increased their op[erational] tempo, and they have been pushing back on al-Shabab in a more significant way,” Austin told reporters traveling with him to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. “The result of that is some engagements that were fairly intense, and we conducted those strikes to support our partner forces,” he added.

The Hill pointed out that while the authority to carry out the strike on July 20th was justified by U.S. Africa Command chief Gen. Stephen Townsend’s “existing authorities to act in the defense of our Somali partners, who were under attack by al Shabaab,” the strike on July 23rd was permitted by the AUMF.

Reuters also quoted several lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who leads a key Senate foreign relations subcommittee, [who] criticized the Pentagon for carrying out the strikes even when no US forces were in danger. “It’s time to do away with questionable legal justifications claimed by one administration after the next for acts of war like this,” Murphy said in a statement.

The incident occured at 10:21 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • A statement released by the Somali Ministry of Information about the US airstrike near Qaycad on July 25, 2021.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the area between the town of Qeycad and the boundary of Xarardheere district. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for a middle point between these two locations are: 4.82888, 47.923205.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

n coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Qeycad, Galmudug, Somalia today. There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces. U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under the 2001 Authorization of Use for Military Force.

The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.

“The engagement was conducted to support our Somali partners who were taking significant fire from al-Shabaab fighters,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Greg Anderson, U.S. Africa Command, director of operations.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. These efforts contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabaab regularly conducts against the civilian population.

The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. remain committed to fighting al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

Violent extremist organizations like al-Shabaab present long-term threats to U.S. and regional interests.

Due to operational security U.S. Africa Command is unable to release further information at this time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM337

Incident date

July 20, 2021

Location

Vicinity of Qeycad, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

5.0105526, 47.991289 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Exactly six months after Joe Biden became president, the US conducted its first declared strike in Somalia of his administration, at either 10.21 or 11.05am on July 20th 2021.

According to Morad News the attack took place in the Qay’ad area of Muldug, with Sonna state media reporting that the airstrike was conducted on a fortified position in Qaycad village, between Wisil and Bacaadweyn. Sonna also said that 20 al Shabaab militants were killed in the attack, with “many more” injured.

SomaliAffairs instead said the strike “targeted Al-Shabab militants stationed between Qay’ad village and Harardhere town”.

The US military said the strike was near Galkayo – the first recorded US action since 2018 in that immediate area.

According to a Pentagon spokeswoman cited by the New York Times, the attack had struck al Shabaab fighters assaulting Somali special forces on the ground.

According to the Times, “The [drone] strike was carried out by military aircraft against Shabab fighters who were attacking members of the Danab, an elite American-trained Somali commando force, near the town of Galkayo in the country’s north, said a Pentagon spokeswoman, Cindi King.”

“Mrs. King said the Danab commandos were being advised remotely by American trainers when they came under attack. ‘There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation,’ Mrs. King said in an email. “U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise-and-assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces.’”

AFP noted that an official DoD letter stated that “A battle-damage assessment is still pending due to the ongoing engagement between Al-Shabab and Somali forces, however the command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this strike”.

Voice of America reported that Somali commanders had been hoping for a resumption of US strikes: “Somali Army spokesman Colonel Ali Hashi Abdinur told VOA earlier this week he hoped the U.S. would resume the strikes, especially to target the al-Qaida-linked fighters in areas where the Somali infantry can’t reach.  ‘We have good cooperation and collaboration with the U.S.,’ he said. ‘There are hard-to-reach areas in the forests where the airstrikes used to target their leaders.’”

The President of Galmudug State later tweeted that “The aim of the strike was to protect the brave armed forces those who are facing the enemy and it was successfully conducted as there were zero civilian casualties involved.”

An initial statement from the Somali government on the attack made no mention of US forces participation, placing the event at 11.05am local time. Breaking with recent convention, the strike was then declared directly by the Pentagon rather than by US Africa Command. However, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman confirmed to media that the strike had in fact been authorised by General Townsend of AFRICOM.

Biden’s first action in Somalia caused some discomfort in Congress. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia told Politco’s NatSec Daily that ““I remain concerned with the justification of ‘collective self-defense’ to respond with U.S. military force to protect foreign groups when there is no direct threat to the U.S., its armed forces, or citizens… I look forward to getting more information from the administration about this specific drone strike, especially as we continue to work together to rebalance the Article I and Article II powers on use of force issues and update the 2001 AUMF to reflect current threats against the United States.”

A trio of senators – Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Mike Lee of Utah – issued a statement condemning the attack: “We’re troubled that no one in the administration sought the required legal authorization from Congress for Tuesday’s drone strike in Somalia especially with no American forces at risk—and apparently, did not even check with our commander-in-chief.”

And Congresswoman Ilhan Omar wrote expressing her concerns about the strike to President Biden, requesting answers to eight specific questions about the action.

 

The incident occured between 10:21 am and 11:05 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    20
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6–12

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Qeycad, for which the generic coordinates are: 5.0105526, 47.991289. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command forces conducted one airstrike in the vicinity of Galkayo, Somalia, July 20, 2021.

A battle-damage assessment is still pending due to the ongoing engagement between al-Shabaab and Somali forces, however the command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this strike as the strike targeted known al-Shabaab fighters and took place in a remote area.

“This strike was conducted under collective self-defense authority and targeted al-Shabaab fighters engaged in active combat with our Somali partners,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Thomas Savage, U.S. Africa Command deputy director of operations. “We are committed to supporting our Somali partners as they fight against these terrorists.”

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command forces take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. These efforts contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabaab regularly conducts against the civilian population.

The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. remain committed to fighting al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

Violent extremist organizations like al-Shabaab present long-term threats to U.S. and regional interests.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    20
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6–12

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CS1959

Incident date

June 28, 2021

Location

القائم, Al Qa’em, Deir Ezzor, Syria

Airwars assessment

One child was reportedly killed and three other civilians, including women and children, were wounded in US airstrikes on the Al Qa’em area near the Syrian-Iraqi borders on June 28, 2021. Local sources also reported that between four and 11 militants, with at least four members of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization, were also killed. The US Department of Defense confirmed they carried out the airstrikes but only recognized killing militants.

Syrian Arab News Agency reported that the airstrikes attacked “residential houses near the Syrian-Iraqi borders in the countryside of al-Bokmal” led to “the martyrdom of a child, the injury of 3 civilians, and material damage”. Sputnik News also pointed to local sources that reported that “a child was killed and 3 other civilians were wounded” and that “the source denied that the target site was a military one, pointing out that the warehouses contain large quantities of oil derivatives, stressing that the fires affected vehicles that were in the target area”.

Eye of Euphrates provided information on both civilian and belligerent casualties, reporting that “the initial statistic that was reached indicates the killing of about 10 members of the Sayyid al-Shuhada militia (4 of them were recognized by the militia), amid reports of a civilian death and wounding of others, including women and children, with varying injuries, after which they were transferred to the city of Deir Ezzor”. According to them, the civilian casualties were caused by “Iranian militias hiding among civilians and taking their headquarters and warehouses within residential areas”.

The US Department of Defense released a statement that “the targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries. Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities.”

Various sources reported on militants that were killed in the strikes. According to Euphrates Post, “Iraqi Popular Mobilization Militia mourns four of its fighters who were killed as a result of the American air strikes” and included an image of the four that were killed. @DeirEzzorNow also named four Popular Mobilization members killed as “Karar Abdel Aziz, Hussein Ali Abdul Hussein, Karar Saad Hamdan, Mohamed Al-Fartousi” and later provided an elevated death toll of 11.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights provided a death toll of seven Iraqi Popular Mobilization” militia members in addition to “destruction of an ammunition and weapons depot, in addition to the destruction of another military point for the militias.” Step News gave their own toll of “6 militants were killed and about 12 others were wounded”.

A tweet from @YusufAd76532779 identified that “the house that was targeted by the American aircraft last night near the city of #Albukamal and the Syrian-Iraqi border, which was used by the militias of the “Sayyid Al-Shuhada” as their headquarters, has become completely destroyed and all of the militia members were killed in it”.

Geolocation for the incident was provided by @obretix, @AuroraIntel and @SAMSyria0.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 child)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–11
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12

Sources (27) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (30) [ collapse]

  • Image of the alleged members of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Militia killed in US airstrikes on the Syrian-Iraqi border on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Euphrates Post)
  • Explosions and smoke caused by the US airstrikes near Al-Bukamal, east of Deir Ezzor, on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Euphrates Eye)
  • Explosions and smoke caused by the US airstrikes near Al-Bukamal, east of Deir Ezzor, on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Euphrates Eye)
  • Geolocation of the US airstrikes on the Syrian-Iraqi border on June 28, 2021 done by @obretix.
  • Geolocation of the US airstrikes on the Syrian-Iraqi border on June 28, 2021 done by @obretix.
  • Image of the alleged members of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Militia killed in US airstrikes on the Syrian-Iraqi border on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by @SAMSyria0)
  • According to @SAMSyria0, "one of the American raids targeted a site (the yellow circle) near the site that was targeted in previous raids (the red circle), and the two sites are located on the Syrian-Iraqi border near the crossing Qaim."
  • Images of the "American strikes on the free zone in Al-Bukamal, Syria (on the border with Iraq) targeting sites" (Image posted by @mas2oul1)
  • Images of the "American strikes on the free zone in Al-Bukamal, Syria (on the border with Iraq) targeting sites" (Image posted by @mas2oul1)
  • Images of the "American strikes on the free zone in Al-Bukamal, Syria (on the border with Iraq) targeting sites" (Image posted by @mas2oul1)
  • The before image of a home that allegedly belonged to militias of the "Sayyid Al-Shuhada" as their headquarters and was destroyed by US airstrikes on the Syrian-Iraqi border. (Image posted by @YusufAd76532779)
  • The after image of a home that allegedly belonged to militias of the "Sayyid Al-Shuhada" as their headquarters and was destroyed by US airstrikes on the Syrian-Iraqi border. (Image posted by @YusufAd76532779)
  • One of the headquarters of the "Sayyid al-Shuhada" militia, which was destroyed by US warplanes, in the countryside of Al-Bukamal. #Nahr_media
  • Geolocation of one of the strikes using video footage with coordinates provided. (Images posted by @AuroraIntel)
  • Geolocation of one of the strikes using video footage with coordinates provided. (Images posted by @AuroraIntel)
  • Geolocation of one of the strikes using video footage with coordinates provided. (Images posted by @AuroraIntel)
  • Geolocation of one of the strikes using video footage with coordinates provided. (Images posted by @AuroraIntel)
  • Geolocation of one of the strikes using video footage with coordinates provided. (Images posted by @AuroraIntel)
  • Geolocation of one of the strikes using video footage with coordinates provided. (Images posted by @AuroraIntel)
  • Damage to the Iranian militia headquarters in Al-Hari caused by the US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)
  • Damage caused by the US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)
  • Damage caused by the US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)
  • Damage to a Civilian house caused by the US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)
  • Damage to the Afghan headquarters in Al-Hari caused by the US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)
  • Damage to the Iranian forces in Al-Hari crossing caused by the US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)
  • Area near the US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)
  • A crane belonging to the Revolutionary Guard heads to the sites of the raids to remove the rubble and retrieve the bodies following US airstrikes on the border areas of Al-Bukamal countryside on June 28, 2021. (Image posted by Eye of Euphrates via Facebook)

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"At President Biden's direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region. The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries. Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities.

As demonstrated by this evening's strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel. Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. interests in Iraq, the President directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks. We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to defeat ISIS. The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation - but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.

As a matter of international law, the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense. The strikes were both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope. As a matter of domestic law, the President took this action pursuant to his Article II authority to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq."

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 child)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–11
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12

Sources (27) [ collapse]

Published

June 2, 2021

Written by

Airwars Staff

Conservative public tallies of civilians killed by US during 2020 are almost five times higher than DoD admits

The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on civilian deaths and injuries resulting from US military actions around the world has declared more than 100 recent casualties. Researchers and human rights groups, including Airwars, Amnesty International and UN monitors in Afghanistan, place the actual toll significantly higher.

For 2020 alone, the Department of Defence said that its forces had killed 23 civilians and injured a further 10 in Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. An additional 63 historical deaths and 22 injuries were reported for the years 2017-2019, mostly in Syria and Yemen.

By contrast, the minimum public estimate of civilian deaths caused by US forces during 2020 across five conflict nations was 102 fatalities – almost five times higher than DoD admits.

Casualties from US actions in Afghanistan in particular appear to have been officially undercounted. While the Pentagon reports only 20 deaths and 5 injuries from its own actions last year, UNAMA – the respected UN agency in Afghanistan – says that international forces killed at least 89 civilians and injured a further 31. United States personnel made up the great majority of those foreign forces.

For Somalia, DoD declares only one civilian death from US actions last year – while Airwars and others suggest a minimum civilian toll of seven killed.

And for Iraq and Syria, while US forces declare only one death, local reporting indicates at least six civilians killed by US actions.

Only for Yemen is there agreement, with monitoring organisations and the DoD both indicating that there were no likely civilian deaths caused by US actions during the year.

Major decline in US actions

The 21-page Pentagon document, quietly released May 28th and entitled ‘Annual Report on Civilian Casualties In Connection With United States Military Operations in 2020,’ has been a requirement of US law since 2018.

The latest report captures the very significant fall in tempo of US military actions during the latter years of Donald Trump’s presidency. According to Airwars estimates, there were around 1,000 US strikes across four conflict countries during 2020 – down from approximately 3,500 strikes the previous year and a peak of 13,000 such US actions during 2016. Declared civilian deaths fell from 132 to 23 from 2019 to 2020.

The majority of civilian deaths declared by the Pentagon during 2020 were in Afghanistan – despite a major ceasefire between US forces and the Taliban for much of the year. According to the new DoD report, 20 civilians were killed and five injured in seven US actions, primarily airstrikes.

The seven civilian casualty events conceded in Afghanistan by the Pentagon for 2020

However the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) which has been recording extensive data on civilian harm from all parties to the fighting since 2009, placed the toll far higher. According to its own annual report for 2020 published earlier this year, “UNAMA attributed 120 civilian casualties (89 killed and 31 injured) to international military forces”.

While these casualties represented just one per cent of the overall reported civilian toll in Afghanistan for the year – with most civilians killed by the Taliban and Afghan forces – of concern was DoD’s major undercounting of its own impact on civilians – with UNAMA logging four and a half times more deaths primarily from US actions than those officially conceded by the Pentagon.

Reported civilian casualties from US actions against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria have remained low since the terror group’s defeat as a territorial entity in mid 2019. According to the Pentagon, just one civilian was killed by an action in Iraq, after US forces targeted Iranian linked militias at Karbala airport on March 13th 2020. Twenty three year old security guard Karrar Sabbar was killed in that US attack. However the additional reported deaths of two civilian policemen in the attack are not acknowledged by the US.

In Syria, Airwars estimates three to six likely civilian deaths from US actions during 2020, mainly during counterterrorism raids against ISIS remnants. None of these were conceded either.

In Somalia, between 7 and 13 civilians were likely killed by US actions during the year, according to Airwars monitoring of local communities. The US military itself concedes five injuries and one death, in two events in early 2020 near Jilib.

Only for Yemen did human rights organisations and DoD appear to agree, with both reporting no likely civilian deaths from US actions during the year.

US forces in Somalia killed one civilian and injured five others during 2020, according to official estimates

Public transparency

Despite continuing disparities between public and military estimates of civilian harm, the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress still represents a significant transparency breakthrough. Close ally France, for example, has refused to declare a single civilian fatality from almost seven years of air and artillery strikes in Iraq and Syria – and recently lashed out at the United Nations after a French airstrike struck a wedding party in Mali.

Later this year the Pentagon will also issue a major overhaul of its civilian casualty mitigation policies, which it has been reviewing in consultation with human rights organisations for several years. On May 25th, new Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr Colin Kahl confirmed in writing to NGOs that the new policy – known as a Department of Defense Instruction, or DoD-I – would be published by the Biden administration.

“We welcome the Pentagon’s publication to Congress of its latest annual civilian harm report, as well as confirmation that the DOD-I on civilian casualty mitigation will be published by the new administration,” noted Airwars director Chris Woods. “We remain concerned however that DoD estimates of civilian harm once again fall well below credible public estimates, and call on officials to review why such undercounts remain so common. Civilians surely deserve better.”

▲ Aftermath of a deadly US airstrike on Karbala Airport on March 13th, 2020 which the Pentagon admits killed a civilian.

Published

April 8, 2021

Written by

Airwars Staff

Despite receiving comprehensive findings on 38 civilian deaths five months ago, CENTCOM has yet to respond says human rights group.

The Yemeni human rights group Mwatana has accused US Central Command of being “very disrespectful to victims”, after it emerged that CENTCOM has still not publicly responded to a major investigation into civilians killed by US airstrikes and ground raids. Given five months’ advance notice of the findings of the investigation, which comprehensively detailed the deaths of at least 38 civilians in twelve likely US actions in Yemen during the Trump presidency, Mwatana says that CENTCOM has still not responded.

The 124-page report from Mwatana, ‘Death Falling From The Sky’, was eventually published in late March without input from CENTCOM. It presents a grim view of an intensive campaign by the US military under President Trump to target alleged Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, part of a long-running counterterrorism effort begun by Barack Obama in 2009.

In total according to Airwars monitoring, a record 327 US airstrikes and ground actions in Yemen were alleged during the Trump presidency, of which 181 were officially declared. As many as 199 civilian deaths were locally alleged, with Airwars presently estimating that, based on the available public record, between 76 and 152 civilians were likely killed by the US in Yemen under Trump in 26 incidents.

Mwatana’s own report focuses on just twelve of these events – recording in meticulous detail the devastating effects of some US actions on local communities. Dozens of family members, survivors and eyewitnesses were interviewed in person. Comprehensive paperwork including hospital records and university and workplace documentation was gathered, confirming the civilian status of victims. Photographs and videos detail injuries to victims and damage to homes.

“The standard of information, and what we were able to get from the ground, is built on years of Mwatana work,” says Bonyan Jamal, an accountability officer at the Yemeni human rights organisation. “Thanks to our incredible researchers, and high quality work, we are able to speak directly to families and gain their trust.”

All twelve events documented by Mwatana were already publicly known – though civilian casualties have only been admitted by CENTCOM in one case. A detailed review by Airwars of ‘Death Falling From The Sky’ found it to be meticulously researched and documented; and conservative in its estimates of civilian harm from US actions. Victims were only identified, for example, after being explicitly named by witnesses and surviving family members. In any case where the combatant status of a casualty was less than clear, they were excluded from the potential civilian tally.

A disastrous US raid on the village of Yakla in late January 2017 killed up to 12 civilians, CENTCOM itself has confirmed. Others have placed the toll far higher. In its own estimate, Mwatana conservatively says that at least 15 civilians died that day. “For the Yakla event, we respect that others have reached different findings,” says Kristine Beckerle, legal director, accountability and redress at Mwatana. “We never say ‘these are all the people killed that day’. What we can say is that we are confident in those victims that we name.”

That conservative approach makes the investigation’s conclusion all the more damning. “This report raises serious concerns about the extent to which the United States is complying with international law in its use of lethal force in Yemen,” Mwatana asserts. “It finds that the United States is failing to investigate credible allegations of violations, to hold individuals responsible for violations to account, and to provide prompt and adequate reparations.”

Mwatana’s list of fifteen named fatal victims of a US raid on Yakla, Yemen in January 2017.

US silence on deaths of women

Each of the twelve events detailed in the Mwatana investigation provides such compelling evidence of civilian harm that CENTCOM’s continued silence appears inexplicable.

More than three weeks after the incident itself, a public US Central Command statement had for example confirmed that a US strike had taken place in the Yemeni province of Bayda on December 15th 2017, which it indicated had resulted in the death of Miqdad al-Sana’ani, described in the press release as an “external operations facilitator” for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). CENTCOM made no mention of civilian harm.

The only locally reported action in Bayda that December day was again in the village of Yakla – where all local sources agreed that a likely US drone strike had killed Hajera Ahmed Saleh Al Taisi, 33 years old and pregnant, and her 63-year old aunt, Dhabia Ahmad Al Taisi.

According to Mwatana, “On the day of the strike, Dhabia was visiting Hajera’s home, about 90 meters from Dhabia’s own small house. At about 6pm, as Dhabia was leaving the house, the strike occurred. The strike hit right next to the entrance of the house, killing Dhabia, who was standing by the door. Hajera was in her kitchen. She was hit by shrapnel in the neck, which ripped through her back. The surrounding homes suffered varying degrees of damage from the strike.”

According to one report, a man was also killed in the attack who may have been the AQAP suspect al-Sana’ani. Yet there is no dispute locally that two women died that day. As Hajera’s husband told Mwatana, ‘My wife was expecting a child; the shrapnel killed her and her fetus … The life of people and their movements are almost paralyzed by fear.”

Kristine Beckerle says this was one of the events she had expected CENTCOM to concede: “Maybe, I thought, they would admit the case of these two women – one pregnant, killed in their house. There is no advantage I can see to their not engaging on this case. Yet we have had no response until now.”

The #UnitedStates has never fully investigated the civilian cost of its operations in #Yemen, and has never taken sufficient steps to review the efficacy of these operations.

Read #DeathFallingFromTheSky report: https://t.co/ASqTtoyYlZ

— Mwatana for Human Rights (@MwatanaEn) March 31, 2021

CENTCOM: lack of accountability

US Central Command was first provided full details of the Mwatana investigation on November 4th 2020, says accountability officer Bonyan Jamal. “They have had more than five months to respond. We even delayed publication several times to give them the opportunity to respond. That CENTCOM didn’t even take the time to write a proper response to express their position on these findings is very disrespectful to victims.”

This echoes other recent experiences with the US’s largest combatant command. As this organisation recently noted in its own recent Yemen study Eroding Transparency, “Despite Airwars providing CENTCOM with its complete civilian harm findings on Yemen during the Trump presidency nine weeks prior to this report’s publication, officials unfortunately failed to provide any event responses.”

CENTCOM also had to issue an apology in late 2020 as a result of what it described as an “administrative error”, after conceding it had forgotten its own earlier public admission of the killing of up to 12 civilians during the raid on Yakla village in early 2017.

Accountability for civilian harm at CENTCOM appears to be in decline across several theatres under current commander General Kenneth ’Frank’ McKenzie, who took up his post in March 2019. As Airwars recently noted in its annual report, 2020 saw an unexplained 80 per cent drop in the number of civilian harm allegations deemed ‘Credible’ by CENTCOM assessors working with the US-led Coalition in Iraq and Syria. And in Afghanistan, US forces have taken an increasingly robust stance against UN data which continue to flag concerns about civilian harm from international actions.

“The great majority of alleged civilian deaths and injuries from US military actions each year are within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility. And we need to see significant improvements in its identifying, reviewing and reporting of those claims,” says Chris Woods, director of Airwars. “Mwatana’s investigation is scrupulously researched and offers compelling evidence of at least 38 civilians likely killed in recent US actions in Yemen. It is not good enough for CENTCOM apparently to ignore that evidence for more than five months.”

▲ Villagers in Jaeir, al Bayda, protest a reported US strike in January 2019 that killed a 67 year old civilian man, according to Mwatana investigators and local sources