Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM208

Incident date

March 15–16, 2019

Location

Jilib Marka, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.79767, 44.90755 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A Mareeg Media report from March 16th 2019 asserted that US-backed Somali forces had carried out an “air and ground operation” near Marka Town in Jilib Marka, 91km southwest of Mogadishu.

Citing anonymous Somali military officials, Mareeg said that “at least” 22 “militants” were killed in the operation, including ‘senior al Shabaab commanders’ Abu Yasin Sheikh Mohamed and Abu Mohamed Hamza. Universal TV Somalia described Mohamud Abu Hamza as having recently returned from Syria, while Xamar Today said that it was Abu Yasin who had recently arrived from Syria.

It added that “Somali military [sources] says drone strike also hit group’s militants in the area, inflicting heavy casualties upon them.”

In what may be the same or a separate event, Danan News reported on March 15th: “#BREAKING: Sources confirm a US airstrike killed today a senior al-Shabab commander known as #Ibrahim_Garwayne in #Lower_Shabelle region at #Leego village.#Somalia”.

According to Hiiran, “The troops also seized four al-Shabaab armored vehicles, an official said, adding that the operation was part of a regular operation conducted by government forces and US forces in the southern regions.”

Al-Shabaab also did not deny or confirm an attack on its forces.

Asked whether it had been responsible for this event, in February 2020 a senior AFRICOM official told Airwars that this was not the case. However, this may not preclude actions by the CIA which conducts its own undeclared strikes in Somalia.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    22

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • 'Victory and bravery: The country's military has confirmed an operation that killed al-Yasin Sheikh Mohamed, an al-Shabaab commander in the Shabelle region, and Mohamud Abu Hamza, recently returned from Syria. #SNA#DANAB ? #MarkoJilib'

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the area around the village Jilib Marka, near the town of Marka. The coordinates for Jilib Marka are: 1.79767, 44.90755. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    22

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM207

Incident date

March 13, 2019

Location

Malayle, between Bar Sanguni and Jamame, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.00182, 42.66156 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

US Africa Command stated in a press release issued the following day that it carried out an airstrike in the vicinity of Malayle, Lower Juba region on March 13th 2019.

AFRICOM stated unusually that it had carried out “a collective self-defense airstrike,” explaining that “Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) were conducting a presence patrol in the region in order to maintain pressure on the al-Shabaab network.  During the mission, militants engaged the SNSF patrol with small arms fire.” It added that “U.S. service members were not present on the ground during the operation.”

AFRICOM also asserted that it “currently assesses this airstrike killed three militants.” And it said that “at this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike.”

In what appears to be a reference to this event, Xinhua cited local Somali defence officials: “Abdi Nur Ibrahim, Jubaland spokesman for security told journalists that an offensive was carried out by SNA and Jubaland forces along with foreign partners in an area between Bar Sanguni and Jamame in Somalia’s southern Lower Juba region. Local residents said that the two warring sides exchanged huge gunfire. ‘Heavily armed forces attacked al-Shabab militants in the town, both engaged fierce fighting,’ Dubad Ga’al, a resident told Xinhua by phone.”

In an article citing this and two previous declared US strikes, Voice of America cited AFRICOM’s Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks as saying: “Somali forces and their international partners have gained ground ‘particularly out of Kismayo in the south,’ which just a few years ago was considered the epicenter of the al-Shabab terror group, according to the U.S. general.  ‘We’ve cleared about 45 kilometers up the Lower Juba River Valley, established combat outposts that have withheld multiple attacks, and as we — again, ‘we’ as the Somalis and our AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] partners — make contact with al-Shabab, the enemy is presenting itself in such a way that it can be struck as part of this broader counterinsurgency effort,’ Hicks told VOA.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village Malayle, for which the coordinates are: -0.00182, 42.66156. Due to limited information and satellite imagery 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

"U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense airstrike in the vicinity of Malayle, Lower Juba Region, Somalia, on March 13, 2019, in support of the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab.

Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) were conducting a presence patrol in the region in order to maintain pressure on the al-Shabaab network. During the mission, militants engaged the SNSF patrol with small arms fire."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM206

Incident date

March 12, 2019

Location

Huley, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.2211000, 44.3694990 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

US Africa Command confirmed that it had carried out an airstrike on March 12th 2019 in the vicinity of Huley, Lower Shabelle Region. According to AFRICOM, the airstrike killed two “terrorists”, and “at this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike.”

In September 2019, the TRT World Research Centre alleged that properties and livestock suffered “huge damage” in this attack, though no civilian harm was reported.

According to the TRT report: “A likely US-Somali raid attacked a neighboring village inflicting huge damage to the livestock and properties including farmland. However, testimony capture did not permit factual gathering regarding what occurred on that night.’

“TRT World Research Centre, interviewed Abshiro, who witnessed the attack and provided the following testimony: ‘The next night, a neighboring village was also raided by white and black men”, Abshiro said. ‘That assault contained both missile strike and infantry (men landed from planes – likely a Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey). They were Americans. The people who saw the soldiers the next night said they were Americans.

“‘A long time ago, Al Shabaab was present in the area, I think the Americans were probably searching for them. But the white man’s [the Americans] plan was misguided. The Al-Shabaab were not that far away from us. They control the whole area including Awdheegle and Barriire. However, our village was between a disputed area between the Somali government and Al Shabaab. It was normal that Somali soldiers used to come to our village on one day,  and Al Shabaab the next day. We were between them.'”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the settlement Huley, for which the coordinates are: 2.2211000, 44.3694990. Due to limited information and satellite imagery 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's continued efforts to weaken al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Huley, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia, on March 12, 2019."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM205-C

Incident date

March 11, 2019

Location

دار السلام, Darusalaam, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.9230721, 44.7868291 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US conducted a confirmed airstrike on March 11th 2019 in the vicinity of Dara Salaam near Awdegle, Lower Shabelle Region, in “self-defense”.

AFRICOM stated at the time that the airstrike – which it said killed eight al Shabaab militants – “was conducted in support of Somali-led ground forces that came under attack from militants” and insisted that “At this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike.”

However it was later claimed based on witness testimony that up to seven non combatants died in the attack.

According to Mareeg Media’s report, Al-Shabaab claimed that Somali US-backed forces instigated the attack. Al-Shabaab also claimed that one US soldier was killed and two injured in the event.

However AFRICOM denied this and stated that “all US service members are accounted for and unharmed.”

Garowe Online said that according to an allegation by Al-Shabaab, six US-trained Somali soldiers were killed during the operation: “A resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told GO that U.S. and Somali special forces using helicopters swooped into the vicinity, before engaging in a heavy gunfight with the militants. The operation which took place on Monday night also claimed the lives of six U.S.-trained Somali soldiers from Bancroft [a private security company], according to Al-Shabab statement posted on its media outlets.”

The Long War Journal noted that “Monday’s strike in Dara Salaam is the latest in a series of operations designed to “degrade” Shabaab’s military capacity… Through its Shahada News Agency, Shabaab confirmed that it engaged US and Somali troops in Dara Salaam. But Shabaab claimed to have repelled the operation in Dara Salaam and said it killed a US commander and six Somali troops, and wounded two more soldiers.”

In September 2019, TRT World Research Cente published an investigation into the attack, saying that seven civilians were killed and one injured.

“At midnight, an unmanned aerial vehicle according to the Darusalam Village Commissioner operated by the United States attacked Abshiro’s village near the vicinity of Awdheegle in the Lower Shabelle region. One of Abshiro’s sons was killed in the strike, while a second son was severely injured. Following the strikes, the next night, a likely US-Somali raid attacked a neighboring village inflicting huge damage to the livestock and properties including farmland. However, testimony capture did not permit
factual gathering regarding what occurred on that night.

TRT World Research Centre interviewed Abshiro, who witnessed the attack and provided the following testimony: ‘We were sleeping when the drone strike hit – around
midnight. The drone fired strikes into the village. Three of my family members died: My son, my son-inlaw and my nephew. We lost all our properties and left the area after burying the dead. Now, we are in an IDP camp [Weydow]. We have lost everything. Seven died, among them were three of my relatives. The US conducted the attack against us. What were the Americans looking for? Al-Shabaab were not with us! Many of our people and farm animals were killed in the attack. I did not have enough time to at least release my animals from being attacked – they’re our livelihood.”…

‘“A long time ago, Al Shabaab was present in the area, I think the Americans were probably searching for them. But the white man’s [the Americans] plan was misguided.
The Al-Shabaab were not that far away from us. They control the whole area including Awdheegle and Barriire. However, our village was between a disputed area between the Somali government and Al Shabaab. It was normal that Somali soldiers used to come to our village on one day, and Al Shabaab the next day. We were between them. They killed us wrongfully.”

Based on Abshiro’s testimony with the TRT World Research Centre, it suggests that the US executed an attack unlawfully against non-combatant and civilians, in an area where al-Shabaab were not present or based. If the US believed that it was targeting Al-Shabaab, then this would indicate that proper precaution was not taken, constituting an unlawful lethal action under international law.”

“TRT World Research Centre’s investigation finds evidence contrary to that of AFRICOM’s assessment that no civilians were killed in the strike. The testimony of ABSHIRO presents that 7 civilians were killed and one injured. In response to TRT World Research Centre’s allegation, AFRICOM said in an email: “U.S. Africa Command
conducted a collective self-defense airstrike in the vicinity of Dara Salaam, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia, on March 11, 2019, in support of the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab. At this time, it is assessed no
civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike.”

While the TRT report itself alleged that seven civilians killed, it also noted that a local senior dignitary only reported one death, that of a woman: “Local media in Somalia reported that a joint attack was executed in Darusalaam, approximately 7 kilometers from Awdheegle district in Lower Shabelle region. Daarusalaam Village Commissioner, Mohammed Aweys Abukar, claimed that one civilian woman died in the raid. Abukar went on to add that some 6 Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the attack. On 12 March, Radio Risaala quoted Abukar saying: ‘We should be frank and truthful about everything; three missiles fired from drones, which were taking part of the attack, hit village homes. One of them killed a woman and injured a man. We do not want to lie.'”

In its second quarterly civilian casualty assessment AFRICOM stated: “On March 11, 2019 an airstrike was executed on eight al-Shabaab members in two known al-Shabaab compounds who were attacking partner forces. Pre-strike observation of the attack, partner force reporting, and U.S. intelligence confirmed the presence of al-Shabaab and that the eight individuals targeted were al-Shabaab members. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

An OCCRP investigation later looked into the collection of ISR for strike: “On February 1 and 5, 2019, a contractor-owned Gulfstream jet flew repeatedly over a small area in Lower Shabelle, about 30 kilometers west of Mogadishu. It returned to the area on March 9. The plane had a particular flight pattern — near-perfect circles — and was likely collecting data with its specialized sensors, according to experts on the subject.

On February 6 and 11, and again on March 11, U.S. airstrikes hit areas the plane apparently surveyed.”

The incident occured at approximately 12:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (4)

  • Son 1 of Abshiro Age unknown male killed
  • Son 2 of Abshiro Age unknown male injured
  • Son in law of Abshiro Age unknown male killed
  • Nephew of Abshiro Age unknown male killed
  • Unnamed woman Adult female killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 7
  • (1 woman1–6 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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 target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Darusalaam (دار السلام), near the town Awdheegle. The coordinates for Darusalaam (دار السلام) are: 1.9230721, 44.7868291. Due to limited information and satellite imagery 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
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Jul 28, 2020
  • Sep 23, 2019
  • In response to a civilian harm query from TRT World Research Centre, AFRICOM again asserted that "“U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense airstrike in the vicinity of Dara Salaam, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia, on March 11, 2019, in support of the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab. At this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike.”

  • USAFRICOM received an allegation from a foreign Non-Government Organization claiming seven (7) civilians were killed and one (1) injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Awdheegle and Dara Salaam, Somalia, on March 11, 2019. USAFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign Non-Government Organization. After review, the allegations were assessed unsubstantiated. On March 11, 2019 an airstrike was executed on eight al-Shabaab members in two known al-Shabaab compounds who were attacking partner forces. Pre-strike observation of the attack, partner force reporting, and U.S. intelligence confirmed the presence of al-Shabaab and that the eight individuals targeted were al-Shabaab members. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense airstrike in the vicinity of Dara Salaam, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia, on March 11, 2019, in support of the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab.
The airstrike was conducted in support of Somali-led ground forces that came under attack from militants. U.S. service members were present during the ground operation in an advisory capacity."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 7
  • (1 woman1–6 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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 target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM204-C

Incident date

March 7–8, 2019

Location

Gamboole, Middle Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

3.084048, 45.181788 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

According to local reports a US airstrike, carried out as part of a land and air operation, was conducted in the Gambole area killing up to eight alleged Al-Shabaab fighters on March 8th. Two civilians were also reportedly killed in the strike and four more injured, Voice of America said.

According to Mareeg: “U.S. forces have launched a new air and ground operation to oust Al Shabaab militia from towns in south of Somalia. Somali especial forces were also involved in the operation carried out in Gambole area, some 50km away from Jowhar town. Jowhar, a town lies some 91km north of Somali capital Mogadishu.

“The operation triggered a brief gun battle between the coalition forces and Al Shabaab, according to a witness, who asked to be anonymous. Somali regional officials said at least 8 militants were killed in air strike after ground offensive.”

According to Halgan Media: “#US Special Forces conducted a Night raid overnight targeting Gambole village in Southern #Somalia. Fierce clashes erupted between Militants & #US Special Forces. The Americans retreated under the cover of unmarked Helicopters & the village was hit with Drone Strike shortly after”.

However Voice of America Somali reported that two civilians were killed and four injured in the raid: “Residents told VOA that the shelling targeted a building occupied by al-Shabaab militants, offices and judicial and training centers. The attack, which resulted in heavy casualties among Al-Shabaab militias, is said to have been carried out by Somali and US forces although this has not been confirmed.

A senior official of said that at least eight Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the operation. Two civilians were also killed and four others injured. Al-Shabaab officials said they had lost about three members, including Gambole County chief of operations, and the deputy chief of finance for al-Shabaab. Gamboole is al-Shabaab’s largest base in the Middle Shabelle region. There have been no reports from al-Shabaab and Somali government forces so far.”

Garowe Online also reported two civilian deaths in the raid.

Soomaaliweyn published what it said were munitions left behind after the raid. And Gedo Times said that “Residents said that they first heard the sound of a helicopter flying in at low altitude area and then heard a loud crash in the area, followed by foreign and Somali troops inside Gamboole, an al-Shabaab stronghold, to carry out various actions. No one has been able to confirm the casualties caused by the shelling but the Gamboole area is an important area for al-Shabaab.”

In April 2020 AFRICOM denied responsibility, noting in its first quarterly civilian harm report: “January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming two (2) civilians were killed and four (4) injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Gambole, Somalia, on March 8, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date and location.”

However, since the allegation clearly refers to a joint US-Somali ground operation as well as a possible airstrike, Airwars reached out for further clarification. On May 6th 2020, an AFRICOM official stated the following:

“The term ‘strike’ is defined as U.S. munitions of any type employed by U.S. military forces under the authority of U.S. Africa Command. This includes both air and ground operations.

1) Were US ground forces present as alleged?

USAFRICOM forces were not in the vicinity of where the alleged civilian harm occurred.

2) Did US ground forces engage in kinetic actions?

USAFRICOM did not execute a kinetic strike on the alleged date.

3) Are any US kinetic ground actions believed to have contributed to civilian harm?

USAFRICOM ground forces did not contribute to the alleged civilian harm.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (10) [ collapse]

  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)
  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)
  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)
  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted an Al Shabaab camp in the village of Gamboole in South Somalia, some 50 kilometers from of the town Jowhar. The coordinates for the village Gamboole are: 3.084048, 45.181788. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • May 6, 2020
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming two (2) civilians were killed and four (4) injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Gambole, Somalia, on March 8, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date and location.

  • For the Civilian Casualty Quarterly Assessment report the term "strike" is defined as U.S. munitions of any type employed by U.S. military forces under the authority of U.S. Africa Command. This includes both air and ground operations. We have answered the questions separately under each numbered incident. 1) Were US ground forces present as alleged? USAFRICOM forces were not in the vicinity of where the alleged civilian harm occurred. 2) Did US ground forces engage in kinetic actions? USAFRICOM did not execute a kinetic strike on the alleged date. 3) Are any US kinetic ground actions believed to have contributed to civilian harm? USAFRICOM ground forces did not contribute to the alleged civilian harm.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM202

Incident date

March 6, 2019

Location

Busaar/Waraha Kakuma, Gedo, Somalia

Geolocation

2.67191, 41.32213 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A possible US or Kenyan airstrike at Buusaar or Waraha-Kakuma left “scores” of al Shabaab fighters dead, according to local media sources.

A regional official who asked Mareeg to remain anonymous, told the local news organisation that the strike had destroyed al Shabaab’s base in ‘Buzer, west Somalia.’

The report did not note how many militants were thought to have been killed in the strike. Airwars interprets “scores” as spanning from ten to forty, though these figures should be considered subject to significant levels of uncertainty.

It was unclear who carried out the bombing according to Mareeg, although it reported it as a “suspected US airstrike”. There are no known reports about civilian harm.

Halgan Media tweeted: “Local pastoralists in Gedo province #Somalia reveal an unidentified aircraft conducted a strike near the village of Buusaar in Gedo province. No Government has claimed responsibility for the attack but the suspicion lays with the Americans and KDF”

A second source claimed the morning strike took place at Waraha-Kuma: “#BREAKING new Airstrike reported in Waraha-Kakuma Village in Gedo Region Southern #Somalia.”

Asked whether it had been responsible for this event, in February 2020 a senior AFRICOM official told Airwars that this was not the case. However, this may not preclude actions by the CIA which conducts its own undeclared strikes in Somalia.

The incident occured between 12:00 am and 9:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–40

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the village Busaar in the Gedo region. The coordinates for Busaar are: 2.67191, 41.32213. Another source mentions that the strike took place near Waraha Kakuma, however, due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of this area.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Kenyan Military Forces
  • Kenyan Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–40

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM201

Incident date

February 28, 2019

Location

Gal Hamurre, Hiiraan, Somalia

Geolocation

3.41321, 45.513191 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The Pentagon carried out a February 28th airstrike in Somalia that killed 26 terrorists in the vicinity of Hiran, according to a press release from US Africa Command issued the following day. The attack marked the third US action in four days in the same area.

US Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, US Africa Command deputy director of intelligence, asserted in a press release: “At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed 26 terrorists. Also, at this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike.”

The statement added that “Precision airstrikes such as this one maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and disrupt its planning cycle and degrade its ability to mass forces and coordinate attacks against the Somali people.”

Harun Maruf, a reporter with VOA, tweeted: “Local sources say the strike occurred in an area called Gal-Hamurre.”

According to Associated Press, “When asked why recent strikes have been deadlier, a spokeswoman said Somali and ‘partner forces continue to make incursions into territory formerly controlled by al-Shabab,’ giving them chances to collect more intelligence and develop targets.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    26

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place an area called Gal Hamurre, in the Hiiraan region. This most likely refers to the village Gumarrey, for which the coordinates are: 3.41321, 45.513191. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected 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's continued efforts to weaken al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Hiran, Somalia, on February 28, 2019."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    26

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM200

Incident date

February 25, 2019

Location

Shebeleey, near Belet Weyne, Hiiraan, Somalia

Geolocation

4.71542, 45.21618 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US military carried out an airstrike in Somalia on February 25th that killed 20 terrorists, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

US Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director of intelligence, said in the released statement: “This precision airstrike successfully targeted an encampment from which al-Shabaab could stage, coordinate, and execute attacks on Beledweyne.
The training camp that was targeted was used as a staging area to facilitate attacks on Beledweyne in the Hiran region of Somalia.”

US Africa Command said it currently assessed that no civilians were harmed in the attack. A vehicle was also destroyed in the airstrike, it said.

Heavy fighting was locally reported the night before the declared strike between Somali forces and al Shabaab fighters, between “Beledweyne and Mahas town”.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

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

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike ‘a location assessed to be an al-Shabaab training camp that was used as a staging area used to facilitate attacks on Beledweyne’, in the vicinity of a village called Shebeeley, for which the coordinates are: 4.71542, 45.21618. Due to limited information and satellite imagery 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. forces targeted al-Shabaab militants, in the vicinity of Shebeeley, Hiran Region, Somalia, on February 25, 2019, to degrade its ability to plan and execute attacks against the Somali people."

Summary

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

Sources (7) [ collapse]