Military Reports

Military Reports

CENTCOM for February 1, 2023 – February 28, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

February 28, 2023

March 3, 2023

Release Number 20230303-01

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TAMPA, Fla. – During the month of February 2023, U.S. Central Command, along with coalition and other partners, conducted a total of 48 D-ISIS operations, resulting in 22 ISIS operatives killed and 25 detained. These operations showcase our enduring commitment to the lasting defeat of ISIS and the continued need for targeted military efforts to prevent ISIS members from conducting attacks and regaining a foothold. Without continued counterterrorism pressure, ISIS efforts to recruit and reconstitute would regain momentum, and the group would reconstitute its ability to plot attacks against the region, our allies, and American interests abroad. We remain focused on building local partner forces’ capabilities to prevent ISIS resurgence.

The following is a breakdown of D-ISIS operations for February 2023 by country:

In Iraq
In Syria
33 partnered operations
15 partnered operations
0 US-only operations
2 US-only operations
17 ISIS operatives killed
5 ISIS operatives killed
14 ISIS operatives detained
11 ISIS operatives detained
In Iraq, CENTCOM troops advise, assist, and enable Iraqi Security Forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, who lead our shared fight against ISIS in Iraq.

In Syria, CENTCOM relies heavily on local forces, including the Syrian Democratic Forces, to put pressure on ISIS in Syria.

These operations were conducted under the authority of the CENTCOM commander who retains authority for operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and under the command of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

Four U.S. troops and one working dog were injured in these operations. All four troops and the working dog are recovering from their injuries. No U.S. troops were killed in these operations.

“We are focused on ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. “We continue to work with our partners to take the fight to ISIS in both countries.”

“We commend the competence, professionalism, and dedication of our Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian Democratic Forces partners,” Kurilla continued. “The fight against ISIS continues. While we have significantly degraded the group’s capability, it retains the ability to direct, inspire, organize, and lead attacks in the region and abroad. Further, the group’s vile ideology remains uncontained and unconstrained.”

In the first week of each month, CENTCOM will publish an accounting of operations against ISIS from the previous month.

Incident date

February 27, 2023

Incident Code

USYEMBi009

LOCATION

قرب مدرسه الفتح بمنطقة الحصون بمديريه الوادي, near Al fateh School, Al-Hosen region, Wadi Abeda district, Ma'rib, Yemen

On February 27th 2023, a reported US drone strike hit a house near Al-Fateh School, in the Al-Hosen region of Wadi Abeda district in Marib, Yemen. According to local sources, two to three people were killed and up to one person was seriously injured.  It was widely reported that the men killed and injured were

Summary

First published
February 27, 2023
Last updated
April 4, 2023
Strike status
Likely strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Drone Strike
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
0
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Suspected target
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Belligerents reported killed
2–3
Belligerents reported injured
0–1
View Incident

Incident date

February 28, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM380

LOCATION

Buurweyn, Hiiraan, Somalia

More than 10 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by Somalia government forces and international partners in the Burweyn area of Hiraan region on February 28, 2023. A tweet from @HSNQ_NISA, the National Intelligence & Security Agency (NISA) of Somalia, announced that “more than” 10 [al-Shabaab members] including leaders were killed in an army operation by NISA

Summary

First published
February 23, 2023
Last updated
May 23, 2023
Strike status
Contested strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Causes of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Suspected target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Town
Belligerents reported killed
10
View Incident

Incident date

February 22, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM379

LOCATION

Hiiraan, Somalia

20 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by a Somali forces and “international partner” airstrike in Hiraan region on February 22, 2023. Asharq Al-Awsat quoted Somali state television which announced that 20 al-Shabaab militants traveling in a vehicle were killed in airstrikes carried out by Somali intelligence forces in cooperation with international allied forces. There were no

Summary

First published
February 22, 2023
Last updated
May 23, 2023
Strike status
Contested strike
Strike type
Airstrike
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Geolocation
District
Belligerents reported killed
20
View Incident

Incident date

February 21, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM378

LOCATION

Cadaley, Middle Shabelle, Somalia

42 al-Shabaab militants were reportedly killed by Somali forces and “international partner” operations in Cadaley near Mahaday district in Middle Shabelle on February 21, 2022. Somali National News Agency @SONNALIVE announced that the Somali National Army supported by regional forces and International partners killed 42 al-Shabaab militants in Cadaley near Mahaday district. According to Islam Times

Summary

First published
February 21, 2023
Last updated
May 23, 2023
Strike status
Contested strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Causes of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Suspected target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Nearby landmark
Belligerents reported killed
42
View Incident

Incident date

February 21, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM377

LOCATION

Galmudug, Mudug, Somalia

At least seven alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared US airstrikes near Galmudug, Somalia on February 21, 2023. AFRICOM released a statement on February 22nd that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on

Summary

First published
February 21, 2023
Last updated
May 23, 2023
Strike status
Declared strike
Strike type
Airstrike
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Known belligerent
US Forces
Known target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Province/governorate
Belligerents reported killed
7
View Incident

AFRICOM for February 21, 2023 – February 21, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

February 21, 2023

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Feb 21, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area near Galmudug, Somalia which is approximately 510 km northeast of Mogadishu.

The initial assessment is the strike killed 7 al-Shabaab fighters.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorism. Military actions are just one part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in their ongoing campaign.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners — diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command and partner forces will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report

CENTCOM for February 18, 2023 – February 18, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

February 18, 2023

Helicopter Raid Captures ISIS Official

 

TAMPA, Fla. – In the early morning of 18 Feb., U.S. Central Command forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) conducted a helicopter raid in eastern Syria, capturing Batar an ISIS Syria Province Official involved in planning attacks on SDF-guarded detention centers and manufacturing improvised explosive devices.

Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution.

No civilians and no SDF or U.S. forces were killed or injured.

Incident date

February 17, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM376

LOCATION

near Afcad, Hiiraan, Somalia

Over 50 al-Shabaab militants were killed by Somali forces and “international partner” airstrikes or ground operations in near Afcad location in Hiiraan region on February 17, 2023. Somali National Television quoted the Somali Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism which released a statement that the Somali Armed Forces with support in international security partners killed

Summary

First published
February 17, 2023
Last updated
May 23, 2023
Strike status
Contested strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Causes of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Geolocation
Village
Belligerents reported killed
50
View Incident

CENTCOM for February 16, 2023 – February 16, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

February 16, 2023

Feb. 17, 2023
Release Number 20230217-01
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TAMPA, Fla. – Last night, during a partnered U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) helicopter raid in northeastern Syria, an explosion on target resulted in four U.S. servicemembers and one working dog wounded. The targeted ISIS senior leader, Hamza al-Homsi, was killed. The U.S. servicemembers and working dog are receiving treatment in a U.S. medical facility in Iraq.

Incident date

February 15, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM375

LOCATION

Hawda Qaycad, Mudug, Somalia

Local and official sources alleged that 10 al-Shabaab militants were killed and others were injured by Somalia National Army operations and airstrikes near Hawda Qaycad on February 15, 2023. Abdi Garad Omar Mohamed, one of the officials of Wisil district in Mudug region, told Mustaqbal Media News that around 60 members of al-Shabaab were killed in

Summary

First published
February 15, 2023
Last updated
May 30, 2023
Strike status
Contested strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Geolocation
Village
Belligerents reported killed
10
Belligerents reported injured
2
View Incident

Incident date

February 15, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM374

LOCATION

Iji and Afad, Middle Shabelle, Somalia

More than 272 al-Shabaab militants were reportedly killed and others were injured by Somali forces and “international partner” airstrikes or ground operations in Iji and Afad villages near Jalalaqsi district on February 15-16, 2023. Hiraan Online News reported that “unidentified drones” bombed villages in the Hiraan region on as part of clashes between Somali government forces

Summary

First published
February 15, 2023
Last updated
May 23, 2023
Strike status
Contested strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Causes of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Suspected target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Village
Belligerents reported killed
72–272
Belligerents reported injured
2
View Incident

Incident date

February 15, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM373

LOCATION

Bacadweyne, Mudug, Somalia

Between five and 70 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared US airstrikes and/or Somali government ground actions near Bacadweyne in the Mudug of central Galmudug state on February 15, 2023. AFRICOM released a statement on February 16th that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army

Summary

First published
February 15, 2023
Last updated
May 25, 2023
Strike status
Declared strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Causes of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
Known belligerent
US Forces
Geolocation
Town
Belligerents reported killed
5–70
View Incident

AFRICOM for February 15, 2023 – February 15, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

February 15, 2023

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Feb 15, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area approximately near Bacadweyne, Somalia which is approximately 460 km northwest of Mogadishu.

The initial assessment is the strike killed 5 al-Shabaab fighters.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorist. Military actions are just one part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in their ongoing campaign.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners — diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command and partner forces will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report

Incident date

February 10, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM372

LOCATION

Donlaye, Mudug, Somalia

Between 12 and 117 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared AFRICOM airstrikes and/or Somali National Army operations in Donlaye, near Amara town, on February 10, 2023. AFRICOM released a statement on February 12th that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa

Summary

First published
February 10, 2023
Last updated
May 31, 2023
Strike status
Declared strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Known belligerent
US Forces
Known target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Village
Belligerents reported killed
12–117
View Incident

AFRICOM for February 10, 2023 – February 10, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

February 10, 2023

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike Feb 10, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area approximately 45 km southwest of Hobyo, Somalia, and about 472 km northeast of Mogadishu.

The initial assessment is the strike killed 12 al-Shabaab fighters.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

Rooting out extremism requires intervention beyond traditional military means.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorist. Military actions are only a part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in their ongoing campaign.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners — diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

“U.S. Africa Command provides support to the Somali government to address terrorist threats, but we are only part of the U.S. efforts there,” said Gen. Michael Langley, AFRICOM commander. “Our Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development colleagues have programs that help build resilience through education and training; develop agricultural diversity; improve markets and trade; and strengthen democracy and good governance.”

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report.

Published

February 2023

Written by

Anna Zahn, Clarie Alspektor and Sanjana Varghese

Assisted by

Clive Vella and Shihab Halep

In the second year of President Joe Biden’s administration, the number of US airstrikes fell to an historic low as some military engagements appeared to take a different form — with the redeployment of US forces to Somalia and a shift towards targeted raids on Islamic State figures in Syria.

The overall number of declared US airstrikes across all monitored military theatres fell from 441 in 2021 to a minimum of 36 in 2022 – mostly due to the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is the lowest number of strikes the US has declared annually since the 9/11 terrorist atrocities in 2001 and subsequent launch of the so-called ‘War on Terror’.

This drastic drop was also indicative of another shift – while airstrikes seemed to occur with less frequency in all military theatres except Somalia, the number of more loosely defined military operations increased in some, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

2022 saw intense focus on US civilian harm policy – with the launch of the Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHM-RAP). The proposals are supposed to reduce the number of civilians killed in future conflicts and improve the civilian harm review process. It came after years of work organisations like Airwars and journalists documenting how the US military’s process for assessing, reviewing and investigating civilian harm was unfit for purpose.

During the year the Biden Administration also altered US policy on engaging militants outside of recognised conflicts by issuing a Presidential Policy Memorandum to Congress – but not to the public. Airwars joined over 50 civil society organisations in calling on the White House to release the new lethal force policy.

Iraq and Syria

There was a noticeable shift in the kind of operations the US carried out in Iraq and Syria in 2022, and this was reflected in changing language from CENTCOM – the military command responsible for the Middle East and Afghanistan.

In Iraq, the US officially ended its combat role at the end of 2021 – formally transitioning to advising, assisting and enabling the Iraqi Security Forces. However, there are still around 2,500 US troops in the country and it remains unclear what the exact definition and limits of ‘assistance’ entails.

In Syria, the US has yet to make an equivalent official declaration – partly as its estimated 900 troops in the country are there without the support of the Damascus regime. However the pattern of behaviour is similar to Iraq – with most activities in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), primarily in the north and east of the country.

Based on official reporting, Airwars estimates that the US conducted a minimum of 20 airstrikes in Syria in 2022. This is by far the lowest figure since 2014, when the US-led Coalition against the Islamic State was formed.

CENTCOM’s end of year review stated that US forces carried out a total of 313 operations in Iraq and Syria during 2022, with 686 militants allegedly killed. In Iraq, US forces conducted 191 partnered operations, with at least 220 operatives killed and 159 ISIS operatives detained. In Syria, they conducted 108 partnered operations and 14 unilateral operations – with 466 ISIS operatives killed and 215 detained. CENTCOM does not define what an ‘operation’ is – making it difficult to understand the discrepancy between these figures and those in press releases throughout the year.

The 2022 report by CENTCOM also doesn’t mention civilian casualties. However, Airwars recorded 13 incidents where harm to civilians allegedly occurred from the actions of the US-led Coalition.

In 10 of these incidents, the Coalition was reported as the only belligerent responsible. In those incidents between seven and 13 civilians were reported killed. In the other three incidents, it was unclear from local sources whether the civilian harm was caused by the US-led Coalition, their SDF allies or ISIS militants. In total these incidents could account for up to 15 additional deaths, excluding the casualty toll of a complex ISIS prison breakout that began on January 20th.

That incident was the largest reported US action during the year and came as ISIS militants led a daring raid at al-Sinaa prison, a detention facility where thousands of alleged former fighters were detained. CENTCOM provided aerial and ground-based support and carried out airstrikes throughout the ten days of battle. A year on, limited definitive information exists as to how many civilians and militants were killed by the different military forces and militants involved. The exact number of US strikes conducted also remains unclear – with the US-led Coalition referring only to a “series of strikes.” Airwars monitored a minimum of 13 strikes during ten days of fighting though this is likely an underestimate, with other monitoring organisations estimating the figure to be several dozen. A joint Airwars and VICE News investigation examined the failures that led up to the prison break.

In early February 2022, US Special Operations Forces conducted a raid that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, as well as his wife and children – with up to thirteen civilians killed, including six children and four women. Local reporting was conflicted as to whether the civilian casualties were caused by US forces or by Qurayshi detonating a suicide device.

Airwars also tracked an incident where a civilian was reportedly killed when he was run over by a vehicle allegedly belonging to the Coalition on November 14, 2022 in Deir Ezzor, Syria.

It is unclear whether the US-led Coalition in Iraq and Syria, known as Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), is still actively assessing civilian harm allegations. OIR last released a civilian casualty report in March 2022, which indicated that it still had 37 reports of civilian casualties still under review.

Somalia

US direct involvement in Somalia increased in 2022.

US troops were officially withdrawn from the country in January 2021; shortly before President Biden assumed power. Between then and May 2022, rotating groups of American special operations units provided training and assistance to Somali and African Union forces. The then head of AFRICOM – the US military command for Africa – General Stephen Townsend, complained this structure was “not effective.”

In May 2022, Biden approved a plan to deploy several hundred ground forces to the country.

On August 9th 2022, a new head of AFRICOM – General Michael Langley – was instated, while the new Somali administration has requested the US loosen its restrictions on drone strikes.

US strikes have since increased – in total AFRICOM declared 15 strikes in Somalia in 2022, up from 11 in 2021. Airwars tracked a further five strikes that local sources attributed to US forces but were not declared by AFRICOM.

Airwars Graph of US declared strikes in Somalia in 2022 by month

In the 15 declared strikes, AFRICOM claimed 107 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed, while local reporting or statements by the Somali government put casualties significantly higher. To date it has released only two quarterly civilian casualty assessments which referenced strikes in 2022 (covering the period from January 1-June 30), but did not acknowledge any civilian harm was caused by its actions.

Airwars tracked two allegations of civilian harm in 2022 where local sources pointed to US forces’ involvement. One of these occurred on September 9, when up to ten civilians were reportedly killed in an airstrike south of the capital Mogadishu. The Somali government initially released a statement acknowledging the strike but other sources pointed out that the attack allegedly involved a drone – a capability Somali forces were not believed to have until their recent reported acquisition of Turkish Bayraktar drones. To date no belligerent has accepted responsibility.

Less than a month later, the US declared an airstrike on an al-Shabaab leader, Abudullahi Yare. Local sources alleged that Ibrahim Hassan Dahir was also killed – some referred to him as a civilian and a farmer, while others said that he was the son of a former extremist leader who is under house arrest.

Information gathered from areas under the control of the militant group al-Shabaab is notoriously limited, making determinations of civilian status in Somalia a significant challenge. Multiple sources have called into question the status of those that the US alleges are militants. In a recent report examining the impact of US airstrikes on Jubbaland, a part of Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab, Dutch organisation Pax and journalist Amanda Sperber explained:

“The interviews for this report do raise serious questions about the ability of the US to consistently distinguish between armed men who are not involved with Al-Shabaab, armed pastoralist community members who are forced to work for Al-Shabaab and actual Al-Shabaab fighters. Al Shabaab is thoroughly ingrained in Jubbaland society, which complicates external observations about who is and is not Al Shabaab and can thus hamper proper application of the principle of distinction.”

Yemen

The US officially withdrew its support from the Saudi-backed coalition in Yemen in 2021, in one of Biden’s major first foreign policy announcements. A ceasefire came into effect in the country in April 2022, which was later extended until October.

In 2022, CENTCOM did not declare any airstrikes or operations in Yemen. Airwars tracked two incidents allegedly conducted by US forces, in which civilians were killed and injured. The first was a February 6 drone strike that killed three al-Qaeda militants but also reportedly injured and killed civilians who were nearby – though the exact number was not reported by local sources.

The second alleged strike, on November 30, reportedly targeted the home of a member of Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, causing secondary explosions which killed up to three civilians and injured up to five others.

Since 2017, Airwars has tracked a minimum of 78 deaths and 28 injuries to civilians resulting from US actions in Yemen. However, CENTCOM has only admitted to causing the deaths of 13 civilians, and injuring a further three. The CIA has carried out sporadic strikes throughout the period, but none of them have been officially recognised.

Yemeni organisations such as Mwatana for Human Rights continue to seek accountability from the Department of Defense, with questions around specific civilian casualty incidents unanswered or inadequately resolved. One victim of a 2018 drone strike, Adel al Manthari, resorted to a GoFundMe campaign in 2022 to pay for his insurance and medical bills.

Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan

When the US officially withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, Biden said he retained the right to conduct ‘over the horizon’ strikes from nearby countries. The only acknowledged US airstrike in 2022 was the July drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in central Kabul. This was allegedly conducted by the CIA and did not result in any allegations of civilian casualties.

Airwars does not monitor US involvement in Afghanistan, but UNAMA – the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan– tracked civilian casualties in the country for years. Since the US withdrawal, UNAMA has stopped publishing regular updates.

There were no reports of US airstrikes in Libya or Pakistan during 2022.

Methodology note – counting US airstrikes

Iraq and Syria:

Until 2022, Airwars would review AFCENT reporting, press releases published by CJTF-OIR, and other official CENTCOM reports. No AFCENT reports were released in 2022, with only sporadic reporting from CENTCOM and CJTF-OIR throughout the year on strike reporting. To reach estimates of airstrikes in 2022, the following information methodology was applied – see table below for details:

    Where plurals of ‘strikes’ were referenced, Airwars chose a minimum estimate of two airstrikes. However, regarding the Al-Sinaa prison break in Syria, during which CJTF-OIR declared “a series of strikes,” Airwars monitoring of local sources recorded at least 13 incidents where alleged US-led Coalition strikes were reportedly conducted. These incidents allegedly occurred between January 21st and January 28th 2022. Other Syrian-focussed monitoring organisations had estimates of several dozen strikes. When references were only made in official reporting to ‘operations’, without explicit mention to strikes conducted, no strikes were counted. Airwars local monitoring indicates that operations mainly refer to ground actions.
Source Date Language used in official reporting Country Airwars’s estimated number of declared strikes*
CJTF-OIR Jan 4 2022 “four suspects captured” Syria 0
CJTF-OIR Jan 30 2022 “Coalition forces conducted (…) a series of strikes throughout the days-long operation” Syria 13
CJTF-OIR Jun 16 2022 “counterterrorism operation” Syria 0
CENTCOM Jun 27 2022 “CENTCOM Forces conducted a kinetic strike” Syria 1
CENTCOM Jul 12 2022 “U.S. Central Command Forces conducted a UAS strike” Syria 1
CENTCOM Aug 23 2022 “U.S. military forces conducted precision airstrikes” Syria 2
CENTCOM Aug 25 2022 “CENTCOM forces struck at Iran-affiliated militants in the area with AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships, and M777 artillery” Syria 3
CENTCOM Dec 11 2022 “Helicopter raid” Syria 0
CENTCOM Dec 16 2022 “6 partnered operations” Syria 0
CENTCOM Dec 20 2022 “three helicopter raids” “partnered operations” Syria 0
CENTCOM Dec 29 2022 “CENTCOM conducted 313 total operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria” Syria/Iraq 0
Estimated Total Strikes 20

* according to US sources and Airwars Local Monitoring

Reporting from AFRICOM for Somalia was consistent with previous years; in 2022, exact numbers of airstrikes were released routinely throughout the year. In Yemen, CENTCOM press releases were used to monitor declared airstrikes – of which there were none in 2022 – while estimates from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Airwars monitoring were used to identify possible or alleged strikes for previous years. See our Yemen data page for a full breakdown.

In Afghanistan, Airwars formerly monitored AFCENT reporting – the only reported strike in 2022 was released by the State Department.

It should be noted that the term ‘airstrike’ is also not used consistently across different military forces, and between military commands – see our overview on this here.

For any questions or clarifications on our methodology, please contact info@airwars.org.

Correction issued to update Yemen airstrike data in July 2023 to note the sole inclusion of ‘declared’ strikes in the overall figures for 2020. See below the original sources and extracts Airwars used to assess these 2020 strikes as declared:

    Strike on January 2-3, 2020, though CENTCOM did not confirm the strike, several major news outlets including ABC News and the Washington Post printed comments from US officials who confirmed details of the attack. Strike on January 27, 2020, extract from a White House Statement: “At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qasim al-Rimi”, though not reported via CENTCOM. Strike on May 13, 2020, extract from a press release by the US Department of Justice: “The evidence derived from Alshamrani’s unlocked phones has already proven useful in protecting the American people. In particular, a counterterrorism operation targeting AQAP operative Abdullah al-Maliki, one of Alshamrani’s overseas associates, was recently conducted in Yemen”, though not reported via CENTCOM.
▲ President Joe Biden in the White House Situation Room (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

CENTCOM for January 1, 2023 – January 31, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

January 31, 2023

Feb. 2, 2023

Release Number 20230202-01

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TAMPA, Fla. – During the month of January 2023 U.S. Central Command-led coalition forces and partner forces conducted 43 operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. These operations degraded ISIS and removed multiple senior ISIS militants from the battlefield, including the Emir of Raqqa and a Syrian provincial media and security operative. These successful operations are part of the mission to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.

 

Coalition member nations remain focused on degrading ISIS capabilities and restoring stability to the region. It is an effort that can only be accomplished by, with, and through our coalition partners.

 

“While our efforts have degraded ISIS, the group’s vile ideology remains uncontained and unconstrained,” said Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM. “ISIS continues to represent a threat to not only Iraq and Syria, but to the stability and security of the region. Therefore, we must continue the fight against ISIS alongside our partners.”

 

The following is a summary of the D-ISIS operations for January 2023:

 

For the month of January 2023, the CENTCOM-led coalition conducted a total of 43 D-ISIS operations, resulting in 11 ISIS operatives killed and 227 detained.

In Iraq:

33 partnered operations

No U.S.-only operations

29 ISIS operatives detained

9 ISIS operatives killed

In Syria:

10 partnered operations

No U.S.-only operations

198 ISIS operatives detained

2 ISIS operatives killed

 

These operations were conducted under the authority of the CENTCOM commander who retains authority for operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and under the command of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. No U.S. forces were injured or killed in these operations. Our local partners – the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces – play a critical role in this fight.

 

“We rely heavily on the Syrian Democratic Forces for the fight against ISIS,” Kurilla said. “Meanwhile, our Iraqi Security Forces have been aggressively taking the fight to ISIS in Iraq.”

 

“We commend the competence, professionalism, and dedication of our Iraqi, Syrian, and coalition partner forces,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane, CJTF-OIR commander. “Their unwavering efforts maintain steady pressure on the ISIS network. The U.S. remains committed to ensuring the lasting defeat of ISIS to preserve regional security and stability.”

 

On the second day of each month, CENTCOM will publish an accounting of operations against ISIS from the previous month. This is the first press release in that effort.

Incident date

January 30, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM371-C

LOCATION

Between Fidow and Qura’ley, Middle Shabelle, Somalia

At least seven civilians, including three children, were killed by alleged US drone strikes between Fidow and Qura’ley villages on January 30, 2023. Shabelle Media Network spoke with the deputy Mahas district commissioner who said that seven villagers, including children, were killed by a strike believed to have been carried out by the US. Residents

Summary

First published
January 30, 2023
Last updated
May 25, 2023
Strike status
Likely strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Drone Strike
Civilian harm reported
Yes
Civilians reported killed
7
(3 children)
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Airwars civilian harm grading
Fair
Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Suspected target
Al-Shabaab
Named victims
7 named, 1 familiy identified
Geolocation
Village
View Incident

Incident date

January 30, 2023

Incident Code

USYEMBi008

LOCATION

محطة الحايرة, Al Hayra petrol station, Ma'rib, Yemen

On January 30th 2023, an alleged United States drone strike was reported to have hit a car in Wadi Ubaidah in the Marib Governorate of Yemen. Three people were allegedly killed who were in the car at the time, who Al Mahara and other local sources reported were “members of Al-Qaeda”, including a prominent leader

Summary

First published
January 30, 2023
Last updated
February 10, 2023
Strike status
Likely strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Drone Strike
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Suspected target
Al Qaeda
Geolocation
Exact location (other)
Belligerents reported killed
3
View Incident

Incident date

January 29, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM370

LOCATION

between Tawakal and Garasjered, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

136 al-Shabaab fighters were killed and up to 98 others were injured in an operation carried out by the Somali government and international partners between Tawakal and Garasjered in Lower Shabelle region on January 29, 2023. BBC News quoted the Somali government who said that 136 al-Shabaab fighters, including top commanders, were killed in a

Summary

First published
January 29, 2023
Last updated
May 25, 2023
Strike status
Contested strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Ground operation
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Suspected belligerent
US Forces
Suspected target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Village
Belligerents reported killed
136
Belligerents reported injured
90–98
View Incident

Incident date

January 25, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM368

LOCATION

Almiskad mountains, Bari, Somalia

An ISIS leader and 10 of his associates were killed by a declared US counterterrorism operation in the Almiskad mountains of Bari region, Somalia on January 25, 2023. One US service member was injured during the operation when a dog bit him. AFRICOM initially released a statement that “the U.S. military conducted a successful counterterrorism operation

Summary

First published
January 25, 2023
Last updated
May 25, 2023
Strike status
Declared strike
Strike type
Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Small arms and light weapons
Known belligerent
US Forces
Known target
ISIS - Somalia
Geolocation
Province/governorate
Belligerents reported killed
11
Belligerents reported injured
1
View Incident

Incident date

January 25, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM369

LOCATION

Xaradheere, Mudug, Somalia

Four al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared AFRICOM strikes near Xaradheere on January 25, 2023. AFRICOM released a statement on January 30th that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Jan. 25, 2023. The strike

Summary

First published
January 25, 2023
Last updated
May 25, 2023
Strike status
Declared strike
Strike type
Airstrike
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Known belligerent
US Forces
Known target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Town
Belligerents reported killed
4
View Incident

AFRICOM for January 25, 2023 – January 25, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

January 25, 2023

The U.S. military conducted a successful counterterrorism operation in Somalia. Additional details will be provided in the coming days.

Given the remote location of the operation, the assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans.

Pentagon for January 25, 2023 – January 25, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

January 25, 2023

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

On January 25, on orders from the President, the U.S. military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of a number of ISIS members, including Bilal-al-Sudani, an ISIS leader in Somalia and a key facilitator for ISIS’s global network.  Al-Sudani was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan.  This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad.  No civilians were harmed as a result of this operation.  We are grateful to our extraordinary service members as well as our intelligence community and other interagency partners for their support to this successful counterterrorism operation.

Pentagon for January 25, 2023 – January 25, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

January 25, 2023

3:12 P.M. EST

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for your patience. As a reminder, this call will be for attribution to “senior administration officials.” For your awareness, not for reporting, on the line we have [senior administration official] and [senior administration official]. The contents of this call will be embargoed until further notice from the NSC Press Office.

[Senior administration official] and [senior administration official] will both give some initial remarks, and then we will open it up to Q&A.

So, with that, [senior administration official], I’ll hand it over to you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you very much, everybody, for joining us. And I apologize for keeping you waiting a few minutes. There’s a lot going on today.

Let me begin by telling you what has transpired in the last 24 hours. Last night, on orders from the President, the U.S. military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of Bilal al-Sudani, a key operative and facilitator for ISIS’s global network, as well as a number of other ISIS operatives.

This precision operation took place in a mountainous cave complex in northern Somalia. Thankfully, and based on extensive planning and exquisite execution of the plan, there were no casualties among American servicemembers or civilians.

In addition to Sudani, the operation killed approximately 10 of Sudani’s ISIS associates. We had prepared for the possibility of capturing Sudani, but the hostile forces’ response to the operation resulted in his death.

We have notified key counterterrorism partners, including the Somali government, with whom we work closely on a daily basis to protect their citizens and ours.

As I said, this operation was the result of extraordinary coordination and careful planning across all elements of the U.S. government for many months. I and other senior members of the President’s national security team were first briefed on the intelligence a number of months ago, and we were regularly updated on the operations planning as it progressed.

Once planning reached a critical stage last week, the Department of Defense briefed the operation to the President. He was joined by his Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the Deputy Director of the CIA, the Attorney General, and senior members of his national security team.

He authorized it earlier this week after further consultation, including ensuring that key questions that he had about the risk to our forces and the impact of the operation on potential civilians in the area had been answered to his satisfaction.

The President’s decision to approve the operation followed a recommendation to move forward from his Secretary of Defense, advice from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and careful consideration of its risks and benefits in consultation with his intelligence community and national security team.

This deliberation included a careful evaluation of whether alternative options existed to address the threat from Sudani with even lower risk to U.S. forces. An intended capture operation was ultimately determined to be the best option to maximize the intelligence value of the operation and increase its precision in challenging terrain.

At the same time, and based on extensive past experience, we recognize that even an intended capture operation might well result in Sudani’s death, as ultimately it did.

The success of yesterday’s operation reflects the extraordinary and patient work of the Defense Department and its interagency partners across our government. That included locating Sudani and determining the nature of his associates. It also included extensive rehearsals of the operation itself by our military forces, including at sites specifically built to recreate the terrain where the operation ultimately needed to take place. And, of course, it included the actual execution that was careful, precise, and effective.

Indeed, when I pressed my extraordinary Defense Department colleagues earlier this morning on whether there had been any injuries whatsoever inflicted on our forces or on civilians, I was advised that there was indeed one injury and that was a dog bite by one of our own canines on one of our own service members. That’s how precise and meticulous this operation was.

So, with that, let me turn this over to [senior administration official] to add a little more context for you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you very much, [senior administration official]. And thanks to all of you for joining the call, especially on short notice.

This operation is a significant counterterrorism achievement in itself. It also needs to be understood in context. The operation reflects key ways in which the Biden administration’s approach to addressing international terrorist threats, such as the threats posed by ISIS and al Qaeda, has evolved over the past two years.

Our approach starts from the fundamental recognition that the terrorism threat today is more diffuse, ideologically diverse, and geographically dispersed than it was 20 or so years ago. That means, as you’ve heard us say before, that we could not afford to allocate our troops globally in a way that reflected the threat landscape of September 2001, rather than the threat landscape we actually face today.

Instead, we needed to have the combination of light footprints, operational agility, and intelligence insight to determine where threats to Americans arise from now, including, as we have been saying for the past two years, from Somalia, where al Shabaab as well as ISIS take advantage of ungoverned spaces to operate with too much freedom and impunity.

Thus, from over the horizon, we, as a government, have identified terrorist threats, then used very precise, very carefully calibrated applications of force where that’s appropriate to address such threats when they reach the level of requiring us to act, ourselves, to address it.

That’s the approach that eliminated, early last year, the global leader of ISIS in an operation in Syria. That’s the approach that took off the battlefield, last summer, the world’s most wanted terrorist: Ayman al-Zawahiri, the global leader of al Qaeda at the time. It is also the approach that has allowed us to capture or kill, at a steady pace, key ISIS figures in Syria who seek to reconstitute the threat to the world that ISIS once posed before the United States led a global coalition to degrade it.

And, of course, we have, at the same time, invested heavily in working by, with, and through our partners to pursue counterterrorism wherever possible. We have also prioritized our own non-kinetic efforts, such as community-level violence prevention.

Through this operation and others, President Biden has made it very clear that we are committed to finding and eliminating terrorist threats to the United States and to the American people wherever they are hiding, no matter how remote. That’s the context for understanding yesterday’s operation.

From a mountainous cave complex in northern Somalia, Bilal al-Sudani is assessed to have supported ISIS’s expansion and activities across Africa and beyond the continent, in particular by providing funding to sustain the operational capabilities of ISIS elements around the world. That includes the ISIS Khorasan branch in Afghanistan, one of ISIS’s most lethal branches.

Sudani has a long history as a terrorist in Somalia. Before he joined ISIS, he was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2012 for his role in Shabaab: helping foreign fighters to travel to an al Shabaab training camp and facilitating financing for foreign violent extremists in Somalia.

Sudani had a key operational and financial role with specialized skills, which made him an important target for U.S. counterterrorism action.

This history and threat profile speak to the diffuse and network nature of the terrorism threat we face today from ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. Our military, intelligence, and policy communities supported the development and deliberation for this operation in a coordinated and consultative manner in the spirit of this administration’s policies for evaluating, approving, and conducting U.S. direct-action counterterrorism operations. That’s also key context for understanding this.

Our intelligence community expects to glean valuable information from this operation as well, demonstrating our continued emphasis on maximizing intelligence collection. Using these insights and others, we will continue to build on President Biden’s established track record of counterterrorism success, while ensuring that these efforts are narrowly scoped and conducted in a manner consistent with U.S. values and broader national security interests.

The United States and our allies and partners are safer today, as a result of this operation yesterday, and the President will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the United States and its interests around the world from terrorist threats where they exist.

I’ll hand it back to [Moderator].

MODERATOR: Great, thank you. So, with that, we’ll open it up to Q&A. We ask that you please use the “hand raise” feature.

Q Hi. Just quickly, have you said when this is reportable — this information?

MODERATOR: We have not yet. We’re unfortunately going to have to keep the contents of the call embargoed until further notice, but we are hoping to come back to you this afternoon.

Q Okay, thank you. Okay.

And then just two questions. For official number one, the fact that you are the one who’s briefing on this, does that indicate that this individual presented some sort of an imminent or direct threat the U.S. homeland?

And then, for official number two, I’m wondering if you could tell a little bit more about your — the U.S. hopes for intelligence collection off of this operation. Can you say — you know — the U.S. was pretty open after the bin Laden raid about some, like, things that they were able to pick up — videos and things. Can you say, in a general sense, what some of the — the intelligence was that was able to be exploited from the scene? Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, Courtney. Obviously, the responsibilities of dealing with the terrorist threat to the homeland, both from overseas and within the United States, are fundamental to my role. That’s why the Homeland Security Advisor position was created in the aftermath of 9/11.

And this individual was somebody who was involved in, as we have briefed, funding a network of ISIS affiliates around the world and, in particular, doing so in places where ISIS has been expanding its reach throughout Africa and also the ISIS affiliate, ISIS Khorasan, in Afghanistan.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And, Courtney, on the second question, it won’t surprise you that I’ll stay a bit vague. But I would just emphasize that as this operation was conceived, developed, considered, ultimately approved, there was interest both in eliminating a terrorist of this significance from the battlefield and his associates — whether by capture or, ultimately, in other ways if necessary — and benefiting from the intelligence insights that our experts anticipated the operation would produce.

Thus far, they remain eager to utilize what they believe the opportunity will present. And I would just step back and say that that is part of a continued emphasis on using operations like this, as well as other means where appropriate, to ensure that we are gleaning the most we can about networks, like ISIS’s global network, about how they facilitate attacks worldwide, and, of course, about how we can prevent those.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Anita Powell.

Q Thank you so much for doing this. I want to just go beyond this targeted operation and ask how the U.S. is going to move forward with the Somali government to make sure that malign groups don’t take advantage of — I think what you described as “ungoverned spaces.” Maybe you could tell us a little bit more about this community-led violence prevention effort.

And then, can you also just sketch a little bit more about this individual? You know, how big was his network? How much money were we talking about? Was he Sudanese, as his name indicates? Just — just some details like that, if you don’t mind.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, Anita. Let me hit a couple of points there. So, as we mentioned, the Somali government is, of course, a key counterterrorism partner. We have notified them about this operation, and we work closely with them, truly, day to day on addressing the threat that al-Shabaab poses and addressing threats like this that ISIS can pose from Somalia, as well.

That collaboration, that cooperation can take a number of forms, from training to provision of intelligence to other steps. And, you know, we do applaud the current Somali leadership as they make clear their commitment to counterterrorism as a real priority for the sake of the safety of their own citizens and the safety of the global public.

There are, of course, moments that we believe necessitate a kinetic operation like the one that was successfully executed yesterday. And, at the same time, this administration has been very clear, including by earlier public remarks by the Homeland Security Advisor, on how we think about addressing international terrorism threats — that often the best approach can be to invest in violence prevention at earlier stages of radicalization or recruitment of violence and in ways that don’t require the use of the, sort of, kinetic means this operation required.

That’s the context for my earlier mention of community-led violence prevention, which we try to do in appropriate ways at home and in which we work hard, especially to the State Department, to train, support, and inform our partners as they do in their own — in communities abroad.

I think I’ll leave details on the individual beyond those that were already mentioned to a time down the road in the future. But I’m sure the Defense Department, in due course, will have more to say on that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Vivian Salama.

Q Hello, everyone. Thank you for doing this call. A couple questions really quick. Is there anything you could tell us about the number of service members who were involved in this raid? And also — and forgive me if this was mentioned in your introduction — are they part of — are they — are they locally based in Somalia, or were they based somewhere else and flown in especially for this operation?

And finally, I just wanted to follow up on Courtney’s question about collection. I know that it’s a sensitive subject and you don’t really want to get into the details of collection. But, [senior administration official], you had talked about, you know, over-the-horizon operations in Syria and elsewhere, and obviously, this brings Afghanistan to mind.

And so, I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about, you know, what you’ve learned from these over-horizon operations where maybe collections are a little bit better, like in places like Somalia and Syria versus Afghanistan, and whether or not they may somehow help you to navigate the restrictions in conducting over-the-horizon operations in Afghanistan, given the fact that collections are likely still very limited, if that makes any sense. Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks so much for the questions. So, I will stay away from numbers or details on those involved in the operation for the sake of operational security, although the military may choose to have more to say on that in due course. But I’d be remiss if I just didn’t emphasize what exceptional preparation they brought to the operation and what skill they were able to execute it with.

And then, on the intelligence collection question, I do think that the theory of the case that you’ve seen for, I guess, just over two years now as an administration is that: Whether it’s with no U.S. forces on the ground, as we have in a place like Afghanistan, or whether it’s with a very limited number or (inaudible) number of troops on the ground, as we have in a place like Somalia, we can use the exquisite capacity available across the U.S. government to get the sort of insight we need into threats that rise to the level of concern that we feel we need to act on.

Now, what we do to act on them is, of course, the next step. And where we can act through partners, that is generally our preference. But where there is an opportunity as well as concern, both at the magnitude of what led to yesterday’s operation, the intelligence is there to act on it and to know what our forces are going to encounter in an operation like this. So it’s the sort of insight that we had in Afghanistan that led to the extraordinarily precise operation to remove from the battlefield Ayman al-Zawahiri.

It’s a sort of insight that we were able to have in this extremely remote area of Somalia to allow our forces to pull off what they were able to pull off yesterday.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Andrea Mitchell.

Q Hi. I just want to follow up on what you had initially said about hoping to capture for collection. Can you tell — give us any description or the circumstances of what led to his death and whether there was resistance and — anything about the operation itself?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Andrea, it’s [senior administration official]. I just want to start out by saying I think it’s an important principle for us — and you’ll have heard it as we’ve talked about the way we approach the use of lethal force — our preference is to pursue capture. That’s — that is in our guidance internally.

What we do is look at capture operations as the — based on our values and preferred course.

In this case, it wasn’t feasible. And the details of that are not available at this time. But it’s important to note that that’s the kind of decision the President makes when he’s presented with options, because he believes that’s consistent with our values.

MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone. That was our final question.

As a reminder, the contents of this call will be embargoed until further notice, but we do hope to come back to you shortly. And have a good afternoon, everyone.

3:31 P.M. EST

AFRICOM for January 25, 2023 – January 25, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

January 25, 2023

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Jan. 25, 2023.

The strike consisted of two separate engagements in a remote area near Xaradheere, Somalia, approximately 396 km northeast of Mogadishu where Somali forces were conducting operations and when they were engaged by al Shabaab fighters.

The initial assessment is the strike killed four al-Shabaab terrorists.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing support to the Federal Government of Somalia in its ongoing campaign to disrupt, degrade and defeat terrorist groups. Rooting out extremism ultimately requires intervention beyond traditional military means, leveraging U.S. and partner efforts to support effective governance, promote stabilization and economic development, and resolve ongoing conflicts.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners — diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach aims to increase cooperation and support for “partner-led, U.S.-enabled” solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces will continue training, advising, and equipping partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report

Incident date

January 23, 2023

Incident Code

USSOM367

LOCATION

Xaradheere, Mudug, Somalia

Between two and 47 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared US airstrikes or drone strikes near Xaradheere, Somalia approximately 396 km northeast of Mogadishu on January 23, 2023. There are no known reports of civilian casualties. US AFRICOM released a statement that “at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of

Summary

First published
January 23, 2023
Last updated
May 31, 2023
Strike status
Declared strike
Strike type
Airstrike, Drone Strike
Civilian harm reported
No
Civilians reported killed
Unknown
Cause of injury / death
Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
Known belligerent
US Forces
Known target
Al-Shabaab
Geolocation
Town
Belligerents reported killed
2–47
View Incident

AFRICOM for January 23, 2023 – January 23, 2023
Original
Annotated

Report Date

January 23, 2023

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Jan. 23, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area near Xaradheere, Somalia, approximately 396 km northeast of Mogadishu where Somali forces were conducting operations.

The initial assessment is the strike killed two al-Shabaab terrorists.

Given the remote location of the operation, the initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing support to the Federal Government of Somalia in its ongoing campaign to disrupt, degrade and defeat terrorist groups. Rooting out extremism ultimately requires intervention beyond traditional military means, leveraging U.S. and partner efforts to support effective governance, promote stabilization and economic development, and resolve ongoing conflicts

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners — diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach aims to increase cooperation and support for “partner-led, U.S.-enabled” solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism. All kinetic operations conducted and supported by U.S. Africa Command are done in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces will continue training, advising, and equipping partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report