A US drone strike allegedly killed “a senior commander and other members” of al Shabaab. Two or three people were reportedly killed by the drones – with an artillery barrage from Kenyan troops followed up the air attack according to the Los Angeles Times, and reportedly killing 50 ‘militants’.
This was the first of six reported US drone strikes to hit in and around the town of Baardheere as the US provided top cover to advancing African Union troops. The Amisom peacekeepers took the town a week after this attack, ousting al Shabaab fighters.
The attack appeared to have hit a vehicle outside the town of Baardheere in southern Somalia. Three al Shabaab “officials” were reportedly in the car, two of whom were killed according to residents. Two of the dead were identified as Ismail Jabhad and Ismail Dhere.
The strike targeted a large group of al Shabaab fighters who were said to be preparing to attack African Union and US forces. The Kenyan interior minister claimed that the death toll was far higher than two or three.
The US carried out a strike on al Shabaab militants “who were in the final stages of planning an attack on Amisom forces,” a spokesperson from Africom, the US military command responsible for operations in Africa. The strike hit at “approximately 8pm eastern” – 3am in Mogadishu and 1am GMT.
The strike prevented an attack that could have caused harm to civilians and friendly forces, the spokesperson added, saying the US was still assessing the situation on the ground but believed there were no civilian casualties. AFRICOM also played down claims that the strike was connected to a visit by President Obama at the time to Kenya.
An unnamed US military official told the Associated Press a joint US and African Union force was moving in to attack al Shabaab positions in Bardhere when the terrorist group advanced on the joint force. The drone carried out the strike, “killing and wounding a number of them,” the Associated Press reported.
The drone strike hit three days after Kenyan jets reportedly bombed an al Shabaab base in Bardere. The town had reportedly been taken by al Shabaab in 2009 and held since. Amisom peacekeepers were reportedly advancing on the area. The US said it carried out the attack to prevent an attack on Amisom soldiers.
The incident occured at approximately 3:00 am local time.
Sources (7) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the town Baardheere, for which the generic coordinates are: 2.338976, 42.283535. Reports also mention that after the attack telecommunication network in Baardheere was cut off, which might indicate the targeting of telecom infrastructure. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
LA Times, July 23rd, 2015:
"The U.S. military’s Africa Command, which oversees operations on the continent, confirmed the airstrikes, but said the timing was not related to Obama’s visit to Kenya and Ethiopia.
“Over the past week, U.S. forces conducted a series of strikes against Al Shabab in defense of AMISOM forces under imminent threat of attack,” Patrick Barnes, a spokesman for the command, said in a statement. “The strikes prevented attacks by militants, which posed a significant threat to friendly forces.”"