US Forces in Somalia

Library image of an armed Reaper drone, December 2019 (US Air Force/ Senior Sergeant Haley Stevens)

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
Somalia
start date
end date
Civilian Harm Status
Belligerent Assessment
Declassified Documents
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USSOM232-C

Incident date

June 5, 2019

Location

Outskirts of Tortoroow, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.25045, 44.69117 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 targeting an al Shabaab fighter in Tortoroow, according to a press release issued two days later by US Africa Command. It was locally alleged that a named civilian public transport driver died in the attack.

However AFRICOM later insisted thast the victim was “a high-level, al-Shabaab financier” and that “U.S. assets executed a strike on the individual in an isolated area separate from the civilian populace.”

According to AFRICOM’s initial statement: “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab militant in the vicinity of Tortoroow, Somalia, on June 5, 2019. Precision airstrikes such as this one are part of our partnered strategy with the Federal Government of Somalia to transition the security in the country to a Somali-led force. At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed one (1) militant.”

AFRICOM also said that it currently assessed no civilians had been harmed in the action. However, three days after the event, pro-al Shabaab site SomaliMemo claimed that one civilian taxi driver had been killed.

In an article published June 8th, the pro al Shabaab site SomaliMemo asserted: “More news comes from a drone strike a few nights ago in an attack on civilians in the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia. Reports from the outskirts of Tooratoroow indicate that US air forces have bombed a residential house and civilians in Lower Shabelle. One of the civilians killed in the shooting was popular in Tooratoroow district, the late Ibrahim Abdi Gaab Osman, a public transport agent.

“Eyewitnesses confirmed that two rockets hit the teacher Ibrahim at his home but that thankfully the rest of his family survived. But there was damage to a motorcycle and other items at the compound.  ‘US planes bombed Ibrahim Abdi Gaab Osman, a prominent man in Tooratoroow district, at his home. He was bombed and was a public transport driver known to everyone,’ a local resident told reporters.”

In summer 2019, US investigative reporter Nick Turse obtained a FOIA response from AFRICOM detailing recent civilian harm assessments. The final entry read: “[Redacted source] alleged that an airstrike killed one civilian. IVO Tortoroow. Outcome: PENDING”.

In April 2020, in its first quarterly civilian casualty report, AFRICOM explicitly denied causing civilian harm: “June 8, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Tortorrow, Somalia, on June 5, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated. U.S. intelligence identified and located a high-level, al-Shabaab financier. U.S. assets executed a strike on the individual in an isolated area separate from the civilian populace. This is contrary to the allegation which stated the strike occurred at the man’s home. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Ibrahim Abdi Gaab Osman Adult male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • 'US slaughters civilian casualties in Lower Shabelle region #Somalia'

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village Tortoroow, for which the coordinates are: 2.25045, 44.69117. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • June 8, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Tortorrow, Somalia, on June 5, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated. U.S. intelligence identified and located a high-level, al-Shabaab financier. U.S. assets executed a strike on the individual in an isolated area separate from the civilian populace. This is contrary to the allegation which stated the strike occurred at the man’s home. 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

US Forces

U.S. airstrike targets al-Shabaab in support of the Federal Government of Somalia
In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab militant in the vicinity of Tortoroow, Somalia, on June 5, 2019.

By U.S. AFRICA COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, United States Africa CommandStuttgart, GermanyJun 07, 2019

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab militant in the vicinity of Tortoroow, Somalia, on June 5, 2019.

Precision airstrikes such as this one are part of our partnered strategy with the Federal Government of Somalia to transition the security in the country to a Somali-led force.
At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed one (1) militant.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. Our process and procedures allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM, and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM222a-C

Incident date

May 9–10, 2019

Location

Farsooley, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.08436, 44.54515 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

“Multiple civilians” were alleged killed in a claimed US airstrike on Farsooley, according to reports which appeared to have originated with al Shabaab. AFRICOM publicly rejected the claim a year later.

Hussein Mohamed, a local journalist stringing for the New York Times and others, tweeted on May 10th that “Al Shabab media reported that US airstrikes kill multiple civilians in Farsooley town in Lower Shabelle region. No word from @USAfricaCommand yet.”

The source for that claim was SomaliMemo, a pro al Shabaab media site, which first referenced a possible event in an early morning tweet on May 10th.

A SomaliMemo article published later that day asserted the following [translated from Somali]: “US drone strikes have killed at least 13 people and injured at least three people in the area. Reports from the area of ​​Farsooley under the control of Qoryooley district say that American planes bombed parts of the area last night. At least 3 civilians have been injured in US drone strikes in Farsooley. In addition, US-trained Bancroft troops entered the area in Farsooley, committing acts of insecurity. Three farmers have been confirmed to have been escorted away by Bancroft forces, with their whereabouts until now unknown.”

A tweet by Somalia’s national intelligence agency NISA made clear that there were military actions on the town on May 10th, though made no mention of US participation: “A security operation in the village of Farsooley has captured AS militants. The operation contributes to the liberation of the hard-hit people of Farsooley village. Security forces will continue operations against al-Shabaab members. # NISA”.

In autumn 2019, US investigative journalist Nick Turse obtained via FOIA a declassified document listing recent locally-alleged civilian harm from US actions, which AFRICOM was reviewing. The fifth entry notes for the date May 10th 2019 that “[redacted source] alleged that a U.S. airstrike injured three civilians in Farsooley, Somalia… Outcome PENDING.”

In April 2020, in its first quarterly civilian harm report, AFRICOM rejected the allegation: “May 10, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming three (3) civilians were injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Farsooley, Somalia, on May 9, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.”

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    13
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • 'US drone strike on civilians in Lower Shabelle region #Somalia'

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention strikes in the area of Farsooley village, for which the coordinates are: 2.08436, 44.54515

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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 Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • May 10, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming three (3) civilians were injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Farsooley, Somalia, on May 9, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    13
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM211-C

Incident date

April 4, 2019

Location

Ugunji, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.87348, 44.72262 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A ground operation struck a minibus carrying civilians, killing one woman and injuring up to six others, local media reported. While one source claimed that the attack was conducted by drone, others said it was a ground operation, involving Somali and possibly also US troops.

AFRICOM later denied responsibility for civilian harm on the grounds that “no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.” However it failed to clarify whether US troops were present on the ground as widely reported – or whether they had been involved in the confirmed civilian harm event,

The Somali Ministry of Information admitted that four civilians were injured during the event, tweeting that “During the night of 3 April SFG security forces captured a very senior al-Shabaab during a capture operation in Ugunji village in lower shabelle. Unfortunately, 4 locals were shot and injured during this raid. The 4 were in a car and failed to stop after repeated warnings. In fact, they actually sped up towards the force… The security force rendered medical aid to the vehicle occupants and released them.”

According to Garowe, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) thought to be American dropped a munition in al Shabaab controlled Ukunji, around 100km southwest of Mogadishu.

“The attack happened during a joint U.S.-Somali forces’ military operation against the Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group, Al-Shabab in the area, according to a resident, speaking to Garowe Online by phone. Other reports said residential houses and shops were also hit during the bombing. Graphic Pictures taken at the scene after the strike and seen by Garowe Online showed a bullet-riddled Nissan Homy packed with vegetables and chicken on the top as well as destroyed shopping centers,” asserted Garowe.

The alleged strike happened during a joint operation between US and Somali forces, claimed a source that Garowe interviewed.The newspaper also published 13 images it said were taken at the scene of the strike.

However other sources said the attack was a ground operation only. Action for Women and Children Concern for example tweeted that “Suspected US forces & SNAs [Somali National Army] opened fire on minibus carrying vegetables,last night. A female passenger was killed and 6 other passengers were injured,4 of them in critical condition.The incident took place in #Ungunji town,#LowerShabelle,#Somalia”.

US Africa Command is yet to comment on the allegation of civilian harm, or publicly to report any strike for this location and date. In autumn 2019, US investigative journalist Nick Turse obtained via FOIA a declassified document listing recent locally-alleged civilian harm from US actions, which AFRICOM was reviewing.

The fourth entry notes for the date April 4th 2019 that “[redacted source] published an article alleging that a drone strike killed a woman traveling to Mogadishu and wounded six others in the vicinity of Farsooley.” The outcome of AFRICOM’s assessment was entirely redacted.

On April 27th 2020, AFRICOM publicly denied responsibility for civilian harm in the event, noting: “April 4, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed and six (6) civilians injured as a result of a U.S. military operation and airstrike in the vicinity of Ugunji, Somalia on April 3, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.”

In followup questions from Airwars, AFRICOM confirmed that “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.”

An official also provided the following responses:

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 incident occured around dawn.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    4–6
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    Somali Military Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (18) [ collapse]

  • The minibus that reportedly was struck by a US strike, Ukunji, Lower Shabelle, April 4th, 2019 (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)
  • Scene of an alleged US airstrike on April 4th 2019 at Ukunji, which was said to have killed a woman and have injured six other civilians (via Garowe Online)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the village Ukunji (or Ugunji), 100 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu. The coordinates for Ukunji are: 1.87348, 44.72262. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Somali Military Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    Somali Military Forces
  • Somali Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Somali Military Forces

The Somali Ministry of Information admitted that four civilians were injured during the event, tweeting that "During the night of 3 April SFG security forces captured a very senior al-Shabaab during a capture operation in Ugunji village in lower shabelle. Unfortunately, 4 locals were shot and injured during this raid. The 4 were in a car and failed to stop after repeated warnings. In fact, they actually sped up towards the force... The security force rendered medical aid to the vehicle occupants and released them."

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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 Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • May 6, 2020
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • April 4, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed and six (6) civilians injured as a result of a U.S. military operation and airstrike in the vicinity of Ugunji, Somalia on April 3, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.

  • [In response to Airwars queries]: 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. 4. April 4, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed and six (6) civilians injured as a result of a U.S. military operation and airstrike in the vicinity of Ugunji, Somalia on April 3, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location. 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), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    4–6
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    Somali Military Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM209-C

Incident date

March 18, 2019

Location

Laantabuur or Abdow Dibile, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.0913, 45.0693 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Up to four civilians were killed in a US strike in the Lower Shabelle region, international media and investigating NGOs reported from the ground, though US Africa Command claimed that the strike had only killed three “terrorists.” It later again officially denied causing any civilian casualties.

Initially, allegations of civilian harm came from a Reuters journalist who spoke to a relative of someone who reportedly died in Laanta Buuro.

Abdiqadir Nur, an employee of the telecommunications company Hormuud Telecom died alongside three others at what was initially described as 04:30 local time as they drove through the village of Laanta Buuro, Reuters reported.

A later investigation published in Foreign Policy by freelance journalist Amanda Sperber, suggests that at least one of those killed – and possibly two others – had no connection to terrorism.

“Ibrahim Hirei had been driving back to Mogadishu with two friends on March 18 when his car was hit in an American airstrike. Hirei, who had spent the day in the village of Muuri inspecting his family’s farm, was killed, along with a second man in the car. The third passenger died later in the hospital,” Sperber reported.

“My innocent brother became a victim of that airstrike. Now we are struggling to manage the life of the family left behind,” Hirei’s older brother, Ahmed Hassan Hirei, told Foreign Policy in a text message.

US Africa Command said in their initial press release issued the day after the event that they were aware of reports that alleged civilian harm as a result of this strike. They noted: “As with any allegation of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties.”

In September 2019, Amnesty International issued an extensive report on the case, having interviewed eleven witnesses, and insisting that the three victims of the attack “were  in fact civilian farmers with no evidence of links to the armed group [al Shabaab].”

“On 18 March 2019, Abdiqadir and Mahad Nur Ibrahim and Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey were travelling towards the hamlet of Abdow Dibile from the village of Muuri, Lower Shabelle, in a white Toyota Surf SUV. They had been visiting their farms near Muuri that day, as they often would, and were returning from the farms to their respective homes in Mogadishu, Leego and Yaaq Bariwayne. Between 3 and 4pm, when the vehicle was approximately 750m north of Abdow Dibile, it was hit and destroyed by a munition launched by a US aircraft.

“A friend of Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim, living in Mogadishu, told Amnesty International that he learned on the night of the attack of his death from a relative of Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim. Early the following morning, the friend left Mogadishu and travelled to Abdow Dibile. At around 8am he arrived in the hamlet where he found Mahad Nur Ibrahim, badly burnt but alive, inside a vehicle bound for hospital. Amnesty International also viewed photographs of these injuries.

[Before his death almost three weeks later,] Mahad Nur Ibrahim told his friend that the three men had been travelling from their farms near Muuri, when their car was struck.

“Shortly after they spoke, Mahad Nur Ibrahim was driven to Digfeer hospital in Mogadishu, approximately 30km away. “Mahad later succumbed to his injuries and died in a Mogadishu hospital,” the friend told Amnesty International. According to hospital records viewed by Amnesty International, Mahad Nur Ibrahim died on 6 April 2019. The records state that the cause of death was cardiac arrest, after suffering from sepsis and burns on more than 50% of his body.

“The friend described to Amnesty International what the scene of the attack looked like when he arrived, and how he identified the two victims whose bodies remained at the scene. On arrival, he found Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey’s body cut into pieces and lying near the wreckage, after local people had removed him from the back of the vehicle. Amnesty International reviewed photographs that appear to show Ibrahim’s burnt head and torso.

“The friend and relatives of Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim and Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey buried the two men in Abdow Dibile on Tuesday 19 March. An elder in the Wadalaan Gorgaate clan and distant cousin of Abdiqadir and Mahad Nur Ibrahim explained that the families of the men received no support from the Somalia or US government after losing their loved ones.

“No one apologized or even asked us about their death. We came together as a family after their death, but we just could not give them any support. We left it to God. We don’t know what actually happened and why they were killed, maybe it was a mistake. We would like justice to be served and the families of the deceased supported.”

“Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim was a father of eight. He owned electric generators supplying the village of Leego in Wanlaweyn district, Lower Shabelle, and farmed land near Muuri, in Afgoye district. He was also the head of Hormuud’s Leego office. Mahad Nur Ibrahim was a father of four. Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey was a father of seven. In addition to farming, he leased out farm equipment and ran a business transporting foodstuff between Mogadishu and Muuri. Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey previously lived with his family in Muuri, but they fled to Mogadishu five years ago due to the conflict between Biyamal and Habargidir clans.

“Amnesty International interviewed family members, neighbours, and colleagues of the victims, all of whom unequivocally stated that the men were not members of Al-Shabaab.

“All 11 people Amnesty International spoke to were adamant that the three men were civilians. “He was not Al-Shabaab” a relative of Mahad Nur Ibrahim explained. “He owned a truck and he transported charcoal to Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab banned charcoal business in Leego and Lower Shabelle so he was not doing much in the past two years. He wanted to invest in the farms with the help of his brother, but both were killed while coming back from the farms.”

“A Habargidir clan elder and relative of Ibrahim Mohamed Hirey was also clear on this point: “I can confirm before anyone that Ibrahim was a civilian and not an Al-Shabaab guy”. Another relative concurred: “He was a civilian, he was not member of Al-Shabaab. If he were Al-Shabaab we would not have run away from the Biyamal-Habargidir conflict. We were basically IDPs in Mogadishu with Ibrahim supporting us. I don’t know why he was targeted. It was a clear aggression.”

“According to a fellow employee at Hormuud who Amnesty International interviewed, as well as relatives, Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim had worked for Hormuud for over a decade and was also not an Al-Shabaab member. Those who knew the men questioned why they had been killed. “I don’t know why [Abdiqadir’s] car was targeted but I think it was a mistake,” a friend said. “The three people who were killed in that car were farmers and not members of Al-Shabaab”.

“In addition to the testimonies, there is additional circumstantial evidence which indicates that the deceased were civilians. Al-Shabaab did not treat the three men as if they were members of the armed group. Families of the victims were not prevented from recovering the bodies and taking the injured to hospital. Testimony gathered throughout Amnesty International’s research in Somalia has consistently shown that Al-Shabaab will collect and bury their dead themselves, often before they permit civilians back into the area. Additionally, Mahad Nur Ibrahim was transported from Abdow Dibile to government-controlled Mogadishu, where he was treated at Digfeer hospital, a civilian facility, where it would have been relatively easy for Somalia government forces to question or arrest him.”

The identity of a possible fourth victim originally cited by Reuters has not been publicly determined. As of late 2019, Africom was still assessing the civilian harm allegations related to this event. US investigative journalist Nick Turse obtained via FOIA a declassified document listing recent locally-alleged civilian harm from US actions, which AFRICOM was reviewing. The third entry notes for the date March 18th 2019 that “[redacted source] posted an article alleging that a U.S. airstrike killed and wounded a number of civilians in a vehicle in the vicinity of Awdeegle… Outcome PENDING.”

In April 2020, AFRICOM overtly denied causing civilian harm in this event: “March 18, 2019, AFRICOM received two allegations from an online media source claiming between three to four (3-4) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Afgooye, Somalia, on March 18, 2019. AFRICOM received three duplicate allegations of this incident on April 29, 2019, May 7, 2019, and August 29, 2019, from online media sources, and one duplicate allegation again on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization.

“After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. U.S. intelligence confirmed the identity of the individuals as al-Shabaab militants involved in logistics operations. The vehicle and occupants were observed in support of known al-Shabaab locations, and strike video indicates that the effects of the strike were limited to the vehicle. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

Given that all local sources as well as a major Amnesty field investigation determined that some or all of the victims were in fact non combatants, Airwars continues to grade this as a likely US civilian harm event.

In March 2022, AFRICOM released their 4th Quarter, 2021 Civilian Casualty Assessment Quarterly Report, which stated that “The Command has read Amnesty International’s investigation and does not contest or challenge that these individuals were farmers or worked for Hormuud. Through multiple methods, both prior to and following the strike, we have concluded they were al-Shahaab operatives. During this operation AFRICOM intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets followed a white SUV with one occupant that originated from an al-Shabaab controlled village. During the surveillance, ISR assets observed stops at three al-Shabaab checkpoints positively identified by al-Shabaab flags and activity consistent with al-Shabaab checkpoints. During stops at each checkpoint the initial occupant exited the vehicle, interacted with al-Shabaab members, and picked up two additional adult males who were also positively identified as al-Shabaab members. After driving through a fourth positively identified al-Shabaab checkpoint, U.S. forces maintained continuous surveillance of the vehicle until the strike. Multiple conflicting Somalia media reporting, and the statement from Hormuud Telecommunications stating that none of their employees were killed in a strike in this area, further diminishes the CIVCAS claim. U.S. ISR assets maintained continuous surveillance until completion of the strike mitigating the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties.”

The incident occured at approximately 4:30 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Abdiqadir Nur Ibrahim 46 years old male "an employee of telecommunications company Hormuud Telecom". Combat status unclear, though Reuters suggest he was a civilian. killed
  • Mahad Nur Ibrahim 46 years old male Half brother of Abdiqadir. Injured and later died. According to Reuters, he was "totally burnt". It's unclear whether he later died. Reuters suggest he was a civilian. killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 4
  • (3–4 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–1
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Unknown
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Horn News published what it implied was a victim of the strike - likely to be Mahad Nur Ibrahim, who later died of his injuries.
  • Destroyed vehicle - presumably from this event - publoished by Amnesty International in its September 2019 report.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle driving through the village of Laantabuur (or Laanta Buuro) near the town of Afgooye. Amnesty placed the precise coordinates at Abdow Dibile: 2.0913, 45.0693

  • Geolocation via Amnesty International. Original caption: This image shows a partial panorama of the air strike scene, overlaid on a satellite image showing the same location on 9 April, 2019, several weeks after the air strike. © Amnesty International. Source Image: © 2019 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar Company.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Mar 11, 2022
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • March 18, 2019, AFRICOM received two allegations from an online media source claiming between three to four (3-4) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Afgooye, Somalia, on March 18, 2019. AFRICOM received three duplicate allegations of this incident on April 29, 2019, May 7, 2019, and August 29, 2019, from online media sources, and one duplicate allegation again on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. U.S. intelligence confirmed the identity of the individuals as al-Shabaab militants involved in logistics operations. The vehicle and occupants were observed in support of known al-Shabaab locations, and strike video indicates that the effects of the strike were limited to the vehicle. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.

  • The Command has read Amnesty International's investigation and does not contest or challenge that these individuals were farmers or worked for Hormuud. Through multiple methods, both prior to and following the strike, we have concluded they were al-Shahaab operatives. During this operation AFRICOM intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets followed a white SUV with one occupant that originated from an al-Shabaab controlled village. During the surveillance, ISR assets observed stops at three al-Shabaab checkpoints positively identified by al-Shabaab flags and activity consistent with al-Shabaab checkpoints. During stops at each checkpoint the initial occupant exited the vehicle, interacted with al-Shabaab members, and picked up two additional adult males who were also positively identified as al-Shabaab members. After driving through a fourth positively identified al-Shabaab checkpoint, U.S. forces maintained continuous surveillance of the vehicle until the strike. Multiple conflicting Somalia media reporting, and the statement from Hormuud Telecommunications stating that none of their employees were killed in a strike in this area, further diminishes the CIVCAS claim. U.S. ISR assets maintained continuous surveillance until completion of the strike mitigating the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties.

Original strike reports

US 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 Awdheegle, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia, on March 18, 2019 (...)

At this time, it is assessed this airstrike killed three (3) terrorists.

Also, we are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this airstrike. As with any allegation of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 4
  • (3–4 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–1
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Unknown
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM195-C

Incident date

February 23, 2019

Location

حرمك, Kunya Barrow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.798211, 43.385648 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (via Airwars)

Airwars assessment

A father and young child were reported killed in a US airstrike on the al Shabaab-occupied town of Kunyo Barrow. AFRICOM later admitted the deaths of two civilians along with three injuries in the event in its first quarterly civilian harm report of April 2020.

US Africa Command first reported on February 24th 2019 that a day earlier it had conducted four actions in Somalia, including “Two airstrikes (…) in the vicinity of Kunyow Barrow.”

According to local reports, the four strikes targeted Da’araha; Kunya Barrow (where two civilians died and at least two more were injured, it was reported); the vicinity of Janaale and Qoryoley (where one additional adult female civilian was said to have died); and Awdhegle. The Da’araha action appears to be the second event cited by AFRICOM for that day near Kunya Barrow.

AFRICOM initially stated that “it is assessed these airstrikes killed two terrorists” and the Bureau of Investigative journalism confirmed through email with AFRICOM that they were killed during the two strikes in the vicinity of Kunyow Barrow. The official statement added that “At this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.”

Mareeg nevertheless reported on February 24th that two civilians, including one “20 day old child” and the child’s father, had in fact been killed in airstrikes carried out in “rebel-held areas of Da’araha, Janaale, Kunya Barow,  Awdhegle”. The article stated that “it is unclear who carried out the raid,” and gave no further details on which of the four strikes had harmed civilians.

Horn News – which published graphic photographs released by al Shabaab – said the two had died during a strike on Kunyo Barrow town itself. SomaliMemo described the victims as “a two-year-old boy and a Quran school teacher.”

Mogadishu update tweeted four images it said had been released by al Shabaab, including one showing a woman and child reportedly injured in the attack. It also said the fatal victims were father and son.

When approached by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for clarification, AFRICOM first said that it still assessed that no civilian harm had occurred as a result of this strike, stating: “US Africa Command is aware the article alleging civilian casualties resulting from the February 23, 2019 airstrikes in Kunyow Barrow, Awdeegle, and Janaale, Somalia.

“As with any allegation of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties. If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, USAFRICOM will then determine the next appropriate step. USAFRICOM complies with the law of armed conflict and takes all feasible precautions during the targeting process to minimize civilian casualties and other collateral damage.
At this time, we still assess no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.”

In September 2019, TRT World Research Centre alleged that a woman was also killed that night in another US strike, in the vicinity of Janaale and Qoryoley villlages.

Each of the four confirmed US strikes on this date has been assigned a separate incident report by Airwars.

In autumn 2019, US investigative journalist Nick Turse obtained via FOIA a declassified document listing recent locally-alleged civilian harm from US actions, which AFRICOM was reviewing. The second entry notes for the date February 23rd 2019 that “[redacted source] alleges that U.S. airstrikes were responsible for civilian casualties… Outcome PENDING.”

In January 2020, Airwars submitted to AFRICOM a comprehensive dossier on this civilian casualty event, including a precise geolocate. Three months later in its first quarterly civilian casualty report, US Africa Command conceded the incident, noting that “AFRICOM received a follow-on allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After thorough review, several of the allegations were assessed to be substantiated. Regrettably, two (2) civilians were likely and unintentionally killed and three (3) injured as a result of the airstrike. It is assessed the deaths and injuries occurred due to the effects of U.S. munitions or secondary explosions caused by explosives stored by al-Shabaab at the location of the strike.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Quranic teacher Adult male killed
  • Child of teacher 1 years old male 20 months old killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 child1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (13) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic photograph of a 20-month old baby, killed in a reported US airstrike on Kunyo Barrow on February 24th 2019 (via Horn News)
  • Damage, reportedly at Kunyo Barrow, following a US airstrike on February 24th 2019 (via Horn News)
  • A father and child reportedly killed at Kunyo Barrow, February 23rd 2019, by a US airstrike (via Mareeg)
  • A woman and child reportedly injured at Kunyo Barrow, February 23rd 2019, by a US airstrike (Mareeg via al Shabaab)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (Image via Al Shabaab propaganda)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (Image via Al Shabaab propaganda)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

  • Wrapped body of a child victim of a reported US strike on Kunyo Barrow, Somalia on February 23rd 2019 (Image via al Shabaab propaganda release)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a lethal US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (via Gundhig)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a lethal US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (via Gundhig)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a lethal US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (via Gundhig)

Geolocation notes (3) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village Kunya Barrow (حرمك), for which the coordinates are: 0.7928186, 43.3841839. Images published by Al Shabaab show damage to a residential area in the vicinity of 4 radio towers. Based on these images we think that the strike took place in this area: 0.798211, 43.385648.

  • Original photo published by Al Shabaab with the radio towers and trees marked

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Location of these landmarks in a satellite image of Kunya Barrow, indicating the likely location of the strike impact in black

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Direction in which the photo was likely taken

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    Killed by secondary explosion(s)
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    3
  • Stated location
    Vicinity of Kunyo Barrow
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • February 24, 2019, the command received allegations from online media sources claiming two (2) civilians were killed and two (2) civilians injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on February 23, 2019. The initial allegation claimed dozens were alleged to have been killed but only provided specific information regarding four alleged civilian casualties. AFRICOM received a follow-on allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, several of the allegations were assessed to be substantiated. Regrettably, two (2) civilians were likely and unintentionally killed and three (3) injured as a result of the airstrike.// Regarding the February 23, 2019 strike, we assess that it is likely that two civilians were regrettably and unintentionally killed and three were injured as a result of the airstrike that also killed two al-Shabaab terrorists who were the intended targets. “While we follow very precise and rigorous standards, in instances where we fail to meet our expectations, we will admit the mistake,” said Townsend. “Regrettably two civilians were killed and three others injured in a February 2019 airstrike. We have the highest respect for our Somali friends and we are deeply sorry this occurred.” On February 24, 2019, the command received allegations from online media sources claiming two (2) civilians were killed and two (2) civilians injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on February 23, 2019. An initial allegation claimed dozens were alleged to have been killed but only provided specific information regarding four alleged civilian casualties. AFRICOM received a follow-on allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After thorough review, several of the allegations were assessed to be substantiated. Regrettably, two (2) civilians were likely and unintentionally killed and three (3) injured as a result of the airstrike. It is assessed the deaths and injuries occurred due to the effects of U.S. munitions or secondary explosions caused by explosives stored by al-Shabaab at the location of the strike. The February 23, 2019, airstrike was designed to degrade the al-Shabaab terrorist group and the command’s assessment is that two terrorists, the intended targets, were also killed as a result of this airstrike. In adherence to established procedures, the command has notified the Federal Government of Somalia and appropriate U.S. authorities verifying the credibility of the allegations and the fact that two civilians were unintentionally killed and three were injured as a result of an airstrike.

Original strike reports

US Forces

In support of the Federal Government of Somalia's increased efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted four airstrikes on February 23, 2019.

"Somali-led operations continue to place pressure on the al-Shabaab network, creating conditions for enhanced stability and security," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. "In addition to creating enhanced security, airstrikes help to disrupt al-Shabaab operations and the network while preventing future attacks by this terrorist group."

Two airstrikes on February 23 occurred in the vicinity of Kunyow Barrow, Somalia, which is approximately 250 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu. One airstrike occurred in the vicinity of Awdeegle, Somalia, which is approximately 50 kilometers west of Mogadishu. One airstrike occurred in the vicinity of Janaale, Somalia, which is approximately 75 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu.

Airstrikes such as these complement our Somali partners’ successes against al-Shabaab, and are one component of our combined efforts to protect the Somali people from terrorism. Somali security forces continue to effectively target al-Shabaab forces in order to increase the span of governance of the Federal Government of Somalia.

These four airstrikes eliminated checkpoints and facilities used by al-Shabaab to collect illegal taxes to fund terrorist activities and to oppress the innocent people of Somalia.

"Degrading various facilities and checkpoints impacts al-Shabaab’s ability to finance operations, recruit, and execute operations," said Olson. "The Federal Government of Somalia continues to place persistent pressure on the network."

At this time, it is assessed these airstrikes killed two terrorists.

At this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 child1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM153-C

Incident date

October 18, 2019

Location

Bulo Haji, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.63201, 41.984138 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

In an alleged civilian harm event previously unrecorded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a declassified AFRICOM report obtained in Spring 2019 identified a claimed event near Kismayo in October 2018.

According to Casimada, “The strike against Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab group was conducted in Bulo-Haji area near the town, killing at least 3 children, a witness, who asked to be anonymous, said. He says a victim was taken into hospital.”

According to the civilian casualty assessment for the event, obtained by US investigative reporter Nick Turse, “Casimada Online released an article alleging that 3 children were killed and 1 was injured in the airstrike on 18 October 2018. The article goes on to state that the injured individual was taken to the hospital. The article does not directly accuse the U.S. of conducting the strike but the implication is clear, ‘It is unclear, who carried out the airstrike in the south of Somalia, but U.S. military often carries out drone strike against Al- Shabaab in south and central Somalia.'”

The assessment concluded that “Comparing the geographic location and timing of the of the alleged CIVCAS incident to the past missions, the alleged strike did not align with previous offensive or defensive strikes. Additionally, there were no reported munitions released on the day in question (18 October 2018).”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the incident took place in the vicinity of the village Bulo Haji, near the city of Kismayo. The coordinates for Bulo Haji are: -0.63201, 41.984138. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    IVO Kismayo
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Oct 23, 2018
  • Casimada Online released an article alleging that 3 children were killed and 1 was injured in the airstrike on 18 October 2018. The article goes on to state that the injured individual was taken to the hospital. The article does not directly accuse the U.S. of conducting the strike but the implication is clear, "It is unclear, who carried out the airstrike in the south of Somalia, but U.S. military often carries out drone strike against Al- Shabaab in south and central Somalia. NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: Comparing the geographic location and timing of the of the alleged CIVCAS incident to the past missions, the alleged strike did not align with previous offensive or defensive strikes. Additionally, there were no reported munitions released on the day in question (18 October 2018).

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM141-C

Incident date

August 20–26, 2018

Location

Basra, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.310968, 45.267909 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

An investigation by journalist Amanda Sperber identified a possible US airstrike near Basra around the time of Eid in August 2018, which allegedly killed between 10 and 12 members of the same family. Airwars has provided a relatively wide date range for this event, based on limited reporting.

The investigation, published by The Nation in March 2019, noted the following: “U.S. military officials maintain that no civilians have been killed in the airstrikes over the past 12 years, but Somalis say that is not the case.

Faduma Hassan Mohamed, who lived in Basra in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle state, told Foreign Policy that 10 of her relatives were killed in airstrikes during fighting between al-Shabab and government forces in August 2018. She fled to one of the about 1,000 displacement camps lining the outskirts of the capital.”

Separately, in July 2019 reporter Nick Turse obtained a declassified AFRICOM civilian casualty assessment document, which also noted this allegation. In this version, 12 civilians from the same family were alleged killed.

The AFRICOM assessment concluded that “Comparing the geographic location and timing of the alleged CIVCAS, the alleged strike did NOT align with previous offensive/ defensive airstrikes or reported ground operations that resulted in Troops in Contact.” The allegation was dismissed as ‘Not Credible.’

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (12)

  • Uncle of Faduma Hassan Mohamed Adult male killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 1 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 2 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 3 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 4 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 5 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 6 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 7 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 8 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 9 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 10 Age unknown killed
  • Unidentified relative of Faduma Hassan Mohamed 11

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    10 – 12
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the village Basra, for which the coordinates are: 2.310968, 45.267909. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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 Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    Basra
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 29, 2018
  • On 23 November 2018, USAFRICOM Public Affairs (AC PA) received an allegation of CIVCAS from Ms. Amanda Sperber (freelance western journalist) was told by a Somali woman currently located in an International Displaced Person's camp IVO Mogadishu. Through Ms. Sperber, "A woman claims that her uncle and 11 family members were killed in Basra sometime around Eid during fighting between Al Shabaab and government forces. She claims she saw something that came from the sky that killed her uncle." NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: Comparing the geographic location and timing of the alleged CIVCAS, the alleged strike did NOT align with previous offensive/ defensive airstrikes or reported ground operations that resulted in Troops in Contact.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    10 – 12
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM139-C

Incident date

August 11, 2018

Location

Leego, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.71437, 44.50902 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

Local reporters alleged that US and Somali forces had killed four civilians including a mother and child, during an operation in Leego.

Caasimada alleged that the civilians were killed around midnight, by Somali troops accompanied by ‘white US officers’, and claimed that the attacking forces had flown there from a military base to the north. An accompanying image used on social media was clearly unrelated to the event.

A declassified AFRICOM civilian casualty assessment report referenced the alleged deaths of four civilians at the hands of partner forces (possibly alongside US personnel) “on the outskirts of Leego village”.

One of the victims was confirmed by AFRICOM to be a woman – though it nevertheless classed her as a belligerent.

The official report – obtained by US investigative reporter Nick Turse in early 2019 – noted that “Two allegations of CIVCAS were determined. Somalimemo.net alleged that Somali forces, which received orders from the U.S., killed at least four people on the outskirts of Leego Village. Caasimada.net posted a second allegation [about the same event], claiming Somali Special Forces, backed by U.S. troops, killed four civilians, including a woman and her child.”

The accompanying casualty assessment determined that any casualties were caused by ‘partner forces’ – though conceded that a woman was killed in the incident.

“NOT/NOT CREDIBLE:

“Intelligence garnered from recovered items corroborated that numerous vehicle occupants were associated with al- Shabaab personalities. Intel assesses with high confidence that the cargo truck engaged by partnered forces was driven by al-Shabaaab personnel who inadvertently encountered the partner forces. Reporting indicates other al-Shabaab within the area fled and maneuvred around partnered forces once their location was identified Intelligence further corroborates that al-Shabaab members engaged first despite the employment of the escalation of force by partnered forces.

“Following the engagement, partnered forces did not find the deceased body of a child. To the contrary, partnered forces rescued an uninjured child from the cargo truck and turned him over to local villagers. All available information conclusively indicates that all of the deceased individuals, including the woman, were occupants of the vehicle that fired on partnered forces. Available information also conclusively indicates that partnered forces responded appropriately in self-defence.”

The assumed target of this event was al Shabaab.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (1 child1 woman)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    Somali Military Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–4

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the outskirts of the village of Leego. The generic coordinates for the village of Leego are: 2.71437, 44.50902. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Sep 4, 2018
  • Two allegations of CIVCAS were determined. Somalimemo.net alleged that Somali forces, which received orders from the U.S., killed at least four people on the outskirts of Leego Village. Caasimada.net posted a second allegation [about the same event], claiming Somali Special Forces, backed by U.S. troops, killed four civilians, including a woman and her child. NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: Intelligence garnered from recovered items corroborated that numerous vehicle occupants were associated with al- Shabaab personalities. Intel assesses with high confidence that the cargo truck engaged by partnered forces was driven by al-Shabaaab personnel who inadvertently encountered the partner forces. Reporting indicates other al-Shabaab within the area fled and maneuvred around partnered forces once their location was identified Intelligence further corroborates that al-Shabaab members engaged first despite the employment of the escalation of force by partnered forces. Following the engagement, partnered forces did not find the deceased body of a child. To the contrary, partnered forces rescued an uninjured child from the cargo truck and turned him over to local villagers. All available information conclusively indicates that all of the deceased individuals, including the woman, were occupants of the vehicle that fired on partnered forces. Available information also conclusively indicates that partnered forces responded appropriately in self-defence.

Somali Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (1 child1 woman)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    Somali Military Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–4

Sources (1) [ collapse]