US Forces in Somalia

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

Belligerent
Country
Somalia
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USSOM002-C

Incident date

January 8–9, 2007

Location

Hayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.433798, 41.816058 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

According to international and local reports, up to 31 civilians, including at least one child, were killed as the town of Hayi or Xayo was subjected to either US or Ethiopian-waged airstrikes.

Heavy civilian casualties were reported in airstrikes on Hayi near Afmadow, 250km northwest of Ras Kamboni, and other parts of southern Somalia, in confusing reports which may conflate activity by US and other forces.

An elder told Reuters that 22 to 27 people had been killed, while a Somali politician told CBS News that 31 civilians “including a newlywed couple” had been killed by two helicopters in Hayi, 30 miles from Afmadow. “The U.S. military is ready to carry out more strikes, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. But whether it does will depend on getting good intelligence on the whereabouts of any al Qaeda operatives left alive. A Somali lawmaker said 31 civilians, including a newlywed couple, died in Tuesday’s assault by two helicopters near Afmadow, a town in a forested area close to the Kenyan border. The report could not be independently verified.  A Somali Defense Ministry official described the helicopters as American, but witnesses told The Associated Press they could not make out identification markings on the craft. Washington officials had no comment on the helicopter strike.”

Mohamed Mahmud Burale told AP that at least four civilians were killed on Monday evening [January 8th] in Hayi, including his four-year-old son.

AP China Daily cited a US military official who said that “Tuesday’s strike was probably carried out by Ethiopia since the aircraft were identified as Russian-made Hind helicopter gunships like those used by the Ethiopian military.”

Ethiopia denied any responsibility, according to China Daily. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia and the US have been cooperating on intelligence, and that most of the information has come from the Americans. He also said the Ethiopians did not provide any intelligence that led to Monday’s airstrike.”

However, AP China Daily also referred to Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s chief of staff, who said at least three US airstrikes had been launched since Monday  January 8th. Reports described al Qaeda operatives as the targets of the US strikes.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Son of Mohamed Mahmud Burale 4 years old male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 31
  • (1 child1 woman1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Xayo (or Hayo), for which the coordinates are: -0.433798, 41.816058. Due to limited information and satellite imagery availble 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

Ethiopian Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 31
  • (1 child1 woman1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Ethiopian Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM007-C

Incident date

May 1, 2008

Location

Dusa Marreb, Galgaduud, Somalia

Geolocation

5.536238, 46.384700 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

At least five and as many as 30 civilians, including children and one woman, were reportedly killed as US-launched missiles targeted and killed several top al Shabab commanders in Dusa Marreb, a Somali village near the Ethiopian border, local and international sources reported.

Around 3am local time on May 1st, 2008, US naval-launched cruise missiles struck the vicinity of a compound in Dusa Marreb, killing, among other militants, the head of the Somali Islamist movement al Shabaab, Aden Hashi Ayro (see also SOM001), which had growing ties with Al Qaeda. Some reports claimed an AC-130 gunship was also involved in the attack.

An American military official in Washington told the New York Times: “[A]t least four Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a Navy ship or submarine off the Somali coast had slammed into a small compound of single-story buildings in Dusa Marreb, a well-known hide-out for Mr. Ayro and his associates. The military official and two American intelligence officials said all indications were that Mr. Ayro was killed, along with several top lieutenants, but the attack was still being assessed.”

Insurgent leaders had been meeting in Dusa Marreb, al Shabaab-controlled broadcaster Shabelle reported, putting the death toll at 15. A Shabaab spokesperson, Mukhtar Ali Robow, told Reuters: ‘Infidel planes bombed Dusa Marreb… Two of our important people, including Ayro, were killed.’ Sheikh Muhyadin Omar was among the dead, according to the Long War Journal and Africa Confidential. Residents said ‘several other Shabaab fighters and civilians were killed, Reuters reported. Half a dozen senior Al Shabaab commanders and Ayro’s brother were killed in the strike, according to Africa Confidential.

The civilian toll spanned from “several” to as many as 30 across the sources. Some reports put the toll at “at least ten”, while Africa Confidential reported that Ayro’s wife and children, and people from nearby houses, were also reported dead. Another local resident, Jamal Mohamoud, told AFP that he had seen eight bodies in the destroyed house.

Finally, The New York Times, citing local witnesses, reported that “as many as 30 people were dead and that residents were counting skulls to determine the number.”

After Ayro’s death, al Shabaab reportedly suspected the US had tracked him through his iPhone and had banned the use of similar devices.

The incident occured between 2:00 am and 3:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Wife of Aden Hashi Ayro Adult female killed
  • Child 1 of Aden Hashi Ayro Child killed
  • Child 2 of Aden Hashi Ayro Child killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 30
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • 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
    2–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Locals of Dusa Marreb walking through the rubble of the compound the day after it was hit by a May 1st, 2008 US missile strike (via Abdi Guled/ Reuters/ New York Times)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted residential buildings in the town of Dusa Marreb, for which the generic coordinates are: 5.536238, 46.384700. 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

The New York Times, May 2nd, 2008:

"An American military official in Washington, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation, said at least four Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a Navy ship or submarine off the Somali coast had slammed into a small compound of single-story buildings in Dusa Marreb, a well-known hide-out for Mr. Ayro and his associates. The military official and two American intelligence officials said all indications were that Mr. Ayro was killed, along with several top lieutenants, but the attack was still being assessed.
“This was in the works for some time,” said the official. He said American intelligence agents had been tracking Mr. Ayro for weeks through a combination of communications intercepts, satellite imagery and other intelligence."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 30
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • 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
    2–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM017-C

Incident date

October 22, 2011

Location

Afmadow, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.514539, 42.074264 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

In this single-source claim, Somalia Report reported that at least 11 civilians died and more than 20 others were wounded after a possible US drone attacked Afmadow town in Lower Juba region.

An eye witness, Mohamud Abdirahman, told Somalia Report: “I have seen 11 bodies and we believe that it was a US airstrike.”

Locals said they had sighted what they believed to be US drones loitering above the area in the previous few days. Al Shabaab had reportedloy been the target of the attack.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11
  • Civilians reported injured
    20
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Archived claim via Wayback

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the alleged strike took place in Afmadoow, for which the coordinates are: 0.514539, 42.074264. 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
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11
  • Civilians reported injured
    20
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM088-C

Incident date

August 25, 2017

Location

Bariire, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.04707, 44.89832 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US military and the Somali government announced they were investigating reports that ten civilians, including three children, were killed during an operation on a farm in Bariire, in Somalia’s southern Lower Shabelle region.

However, on November 28th 2017, the US published a press release concluding that only “armed enemy combatants” were killed.

Earlier that day, the Daily Beast had published a lengthy investigation into the raid. The investigation presented evidence that American soldiers were involved directly in the deaths of the ten civilians reported killed, which included eye witness accounts and the examination of bullet casings. Eyewitnesses “Abdullahi and Goomey saw their fellow farmers’ bodies sprawled across the ground. The small pot that one of them had been using to make tea still stood upright near the corpses. And they also saw what they later estimated to be around 20 American soldiers standing around the bodies. A Somali National Army soldier who was at the scene estimated 10 to 12 Americans were there.”

The investigation also claimed that “a majority of bullet casings collected from the farm that was attacked, which were seen by The Daily Beast, were from American—not Somali National Army—weapons. This appears to confirm that the Special Operations team did not command SNA while remaining behind during the operation, as the AFRICOM statement would have the public believe, but rather were responsible themselves for firing upon and killing unarmed civilians.”

Sources had also claimed to the Beast that American diplomats had also “pressured the Somali government to bury the unfavorable findings of a Somali Federal Government-led investigation into the raid.”

Following the incident, the Somali Information ministry initially said that eight al Shabaab fighters had been killed, according to AP. However it later issued a statement acknowledging the reports of civilian casualties, while adding that there had been different security operations taking place in the area. VOA later said that the Somali army had admitted that its own forces, supported by US troops, had mistakenly shot dead 10 civilians, including three children.

“It was not a deliberate action. It was an accident and misunderstanding between the forces and local farmers in the area,” Somali army chief General Ahmed Jimale Irfid told VOA. “It was early Friday morning while it was dark, our forces mistook the local farmers as al Shabaab members; some farmers were armed; there was a shoot-out, we don’t know who started the shooting and that is how the incident started.”

Witnesses and local officials told the media that the civilians were killed by shots fired during a raid by Somali and US forces on the farm early morning on August 25th. The deputy governor of the region, Ali Nur Mohamed, said for example that the farmers were killed “one by one” after soldiers stormed the village. “These local farmers were attacked by foreign troops while looking after their crops,” Mohamed told reporters. “The troops could have arrested them because they were unarmed but instead shot them one by one mercilessly.”

Three children aged between 8 and 10 and a woman were also killed, he added. When Reuters visited a local hospital, they saw nine bodies including three children said to be aged 8, 9 and 10 years old. Medics said an elderly man later died which would bring the death toll to ten. At least one of the dead was a child, according to the Daily Beast investigation.

Garowe Online named the ten people allegedly killed, but listed them all as farmers. There was no mention of the children in its reporting.

A witness told Reuters: “It was this morning when white and Somali forces entered the farm. All the 10 people were asleep and I ran for my life.” A clan elder also said the victims were sleeping when US and Somali forces came onto the farm.

Lawmaker Dahir Amin Jesow told Reuters the raid was possibly the result of misleading intelligence. The area was reportedly the centre of a feud between two powerful clans and he said he believed one group may have tipped off security forces that the other side were insurgents. Those killed, he said, were simply farmers – armed to defend themselves against the rival group.

This was not the first such accusation. In September 2016, a US strike in in Galkayo killed between 10 and 22 members of a local militia from Galmudug region. Galmudug region’s Security Minister Osman Issa blamed intelligence forces in the Puntland region for giving the US incorrect information. The two regions had clashed on a number of occasions.

Clan elder Abukar Osman Sheikh told Reuters: “They were sleeping in their farm when US and Somali forces came into their farm and opened fire. Last year, the US killed my people in Galkayo in a deliberate strike. We shall not bury them. We shall no longer tolerate it.”

The bodies of the victims were taken to the capital, Mogadishu, and left on public display before burial, in a show of anger.

A year after its original investigation, in November 2018 the Daily Beast published an update in which it directly alleged that US soldiers had fired on the civilians: “According to the Somali National Army (SNA) soldier who was with the American special operators during the incident, the team approached the farm where the incident occurred with eight U.S. soldiers in front of the 20 Somali National Army soldiers and four U.S. operators behind them.

The Americans in the lead then fired on two unarmed people who were preparing tea, after which Somali National Army soldiers rushed forward and fired on three farmers in a nearby shed. The U.S. soldiers began firing at others in the farming village who came out of their homes.

The account by the SNA soldier, who spoke on condition that his name not be used, corroborated earlier Daily Beast reporting and contradicts a U.S. Africa Command press release issued 30 minutes after The Daily Beast published its months-long investigation into the incident.”

The Beast added that “None of the over two dozen Somali National Army members, clan elders, surviving farmers, or security and government officials interviewed in the course of The Daily Beast investigation were contacted by U.S. investigators, raising questions in Somalia as to whether any of the investigation’s sources included those outside the U.S. military.”

The incident occured at approximately 5:00 am local time.

  • Ali Aden Ahmed Adult male Farmer killed
  • Abdifitah Yusuf Abdi Adult male Farmer killed
  • Juruum Mohamed Jusuf Adult male Farmer killed
  • Saney Jame Warsame Adult male Farmer killed
  • Ali Abdi Ibrahim Adult male Farmer killed
  • Abdelkadir Abdullahi Dirie Adult male Farmer killed
  • Isack Ali Harun Adult male Farmer killed
  • Mohamud Talasow Abdi Adult male Farmer killed
  • Hussein Khamis Moalim Abdi Adult male Farmer killed
  • Mohamud Mohamed Abdi Adult male Farmer killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    10
  • (3 children1 woman6–10 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–6

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (8) [ collapse]

  • AFRICOM statement on the incident
  • Civilian casualty photos from the Daily Beast article of 29/11/2017
  • Civilian casualty photo from the Daily Beast article of 29/11/2017
  • A relative mourns a victim of a US/ Somali operation which killed 10 civilians in August 2017 (via AP)
  • The bodies of civilians killed in a US/ Somali raid in August 2017 (via AP)
  • The bodies of some of the civilian victims of a US/ Somali raid in August 2017 (via Radio Kulmiye)
  • Families conduct burial rites for victims of Bariire attack August 2017. Photo: Goobjoog News

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a farm belonging to a local farmer named Hussein Tabliq, near the village Bariire. People reportedly fled to a nearby forest of banana trees during the attack. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the attack. The coordinates for the village Bariire are: 2.04707, 44.89832.

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.
  • 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

United States Armed Forces
  • Nov 29, 2017
  • "After a thorough assessment of the Somali National Army-led operation near Bariire, Somalia, on Aug. 25, 2017 and the associated allegations of civilian casualties, U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) has concluded that the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants. Before conducting operations with partner forces, SOCAF conducts detailed planning and coordination to reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties and to ensure compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict. U.S. Africa Command and the Department of Defense take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously."

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

We are aware of the civilian casualty allegations near Bariire, Somalia. We take any allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and per standard, we are conducting an assessment into the situation to determine the facts on the ground.

We can confirm that the Somali National Army was conducting an operation in the area with U.S. forces in a supporting role.

U.S. forces are in Somalia at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and are committed to helping Somali forces neutralize al-Shabaab and bring stability to the region.

Somalia Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Somalia 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
    10
  • (3 children1 woman6–10 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–6

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM013-C

Incident date

September 15, 2011

Location

Kismayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.355651, 42.545703 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

A single source reported that nine civilians died in alleged US drone strikes on Kismayo.

According to the source Antiwar.com, “Eyewitnesses in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo have reported a number of missile strikes, apparently fired by US drones in and around the city. Terrified residents say that several loud explosions were heard in the area.

“The militant faction al-Shabaab, which is in control of the area, says the drones hit on the outskirts of the town and killed at least nine civilians, including women and children. 30 others were reported wounded in the strikes.”

AFP reported that residents of Kismayo heard “the sound of aircraft and heavy explosions… We heard planes flying over Kismayo and minutes later there were at least three explosions,” resident Mohamed Ali told AFP by phone. “The aircraft fired heavy missiles into a jungle area where the Shebab established training camps, but we don’t know more,” Abdikarim Samow, another resident, told AFP.

Armed drones were operating from Mahe in the Seychelles (along with those used purely for surveillance), the Washington Post reported: “In the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean…a small fleet of ‘hunter-killer’ drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.”

Seychelles foreign minister Jean-Paul Adam denied the drones were armed. However, a 2009 diplomatic cable stated the US “would seek discrete [sic], specific discussions … to gain approval’ to arm the Reapers in the Seychelles ‘should the desire to do so ever arise”.

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
    9
  • (2 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–30

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a jungle or the outskirts of Kismayo. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The generic coordinates for the city Kismayo are: -0.355651, 42.545703.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    9
  • (2 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–30

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM001-C

Incident date

January 7, 2007

Location

Ras Kamboni (possibly vicinity of Lag Badana Bushbush National Park), Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-1.649594, 41.563289 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Up to eight civilians were reportedly killed as the US carried out an airstrike against al Qaeda leaders in Ras Kamboni, Lower Juba, international and local sources reported.

Shortly after Ethiopian forces had invaded Somalia in late December 2006, the US carried out its first known combat operation within Somalia since the September 11 2001 attacks. Specifically, a JSOC AC-130 gunship attacked a suspected al Qaeda convoy under cover of darkness, after tracking it with a Predator drone. According to the Washington Post, the strike was launched from a US military base in Djibouti and based on both CIA intelligence and on information provided by Ethiopian and Kenyan forces operating in the border area.

Somali government spokesperson Abdul Rashid Hidig told the New York Times that two civilians were killed, although an Islamist spokesperson said “many” nomadic tribesmen died, including many children. US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannenberger denied any civilian casualties in an interview with the BBC. Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told CBS News the strike was based on intelligence “that led us to believe we had principal al Qaeda leaders in an area where we could identify them and take action against them.” But another US official told the Washington Post: “Frankly, I don’t think we know who we killed.”

Up to a dozen militants were among those reportedly killed. US officials, speaking anonymously, named various al Qaeda members as potential targets including Aden Hashi Eyro or AyroFazul Abdullah Mohammed, and Sudanese explosives expert Abu Talha al Sudani (aka Tariq Abdullah). Somali officials instead said that 50 people died in the attacks – “mostly” Al Qaeda fighters.

A team of Ethiopian military personnel with one US Special Forces operative landed at the scene within hours and confirmed eight dead and three injured, “all of whom were described as being armed”, the New York Times reported the following month.  Ayro’s bloodied passport was found, leading them to believe he had been wounded or killed, the report added – although Ayro was later targeted in another action  (SOM008.) Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was also reportedly the target of SOM002 and SOM005.

A later report in the Daily Mail claimed four British citizens were killed in the attack. Five days after the incident, a number of individuals surrendered to Kenyan authorities, including a number of Swedish citizens; Fazul’s wife Mariam Ali Mohammed; and eight children. They were deported to Mogadishu and then seized by the Ethiopian intelligence service, who transported them to Addis Ababa where they were held for ten weeks. Finally, the Los Angeles Times reported that the raid killed between eight to 10 alleged al Qaeda affiliates.

According to several reports and Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman, the targets were those believed to be responsible for the 1998 US embassy bombings, which killed 225 people. Al Sudani was also reportedly “al Qaeda’s leader in East Africa” and was involved in the 2002 Paradise Hotel bombing in Kenya that killed 13 people.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–45
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy of which some vehicles were stuck in the mud, near the port city of Ras Kamboni. The convoy was supposedly seeking deeper cover in the bush near the Kenyan border. One source noted that the strike took place on a remote island off of Ras Kamboni. Given the targets were in land vehicles, it seems unlikely they would have been on an island. However, the shape of the peninsula to the South of Ras Kamboni does look similar to an island, and may have been described as such. The information stating the vehicles got stuck in the mud whilst seeking shelter in bush areas could suggest the forest area to the West / South West of Ras Kamboni. This is also close to the Kenyan border, which is corroborated by information within the source documentation. The coordinates for this area are: -1.649594, 41.563289.

  • The forest area just south of the port town Ras Kamboni, near the Kenyan border (marked in yellow)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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

"WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2007 – A U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship attack in Somalia on Jan. 7 targeted senior terrorist leaders, a senior Pentagon official confirmed today.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters the attack targeted "what we believe to be principal al Qaeda leadership" operating in the southern part of Somalia."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8–45
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM004-C

Incident date

January 23, 2007

Location

Waldena, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.074253, 41.120546 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

Up to eight people – some civilians – and one al Qaeda member, were killed as a US drone reportedly targeted, and later captured, a militant leader in Waldena.

A fresh JSOC AC-130 strike in Somalia, reportedly operating from an airbase in eastern Ethiopia, targeted Ahmed Madobe, a deputy of ICU leader Hassan Turki. Madobe survived the attack but was wounded and captured, he later told The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill. His eight companions, who Madobe said included men and women ‘on the run’ with him, were all killed. It is unclear whether all of the the eight victims were civilians. Madobe told the Nation:

“At around 4am we woke up to perform the dawn prayers, and that’s when the planes started to hit us. The entire airspace was full of planes. There was AC-130, helicopters and fighter jets. The sky was full of strikes. They were hitting us, pounding us with heavy weaponry.”

At around 10am, he added, Ethiopian and US forces landed by helicopter and captured him. Somalia Report said the attack was on an al Qaeda supply convoy, and ‘follow-up operations’ confirmed the strike killed Tariq Abdullah.

A single source claims an SAS unit entered Somalia with members of US Delta Force (part of JSOC) to identify the remains of British and other foreign fighters allegedly killed in this event. The joint mission took DNA samples from 50 exhumed bodies and four British citizens were identified, the report claimed.

A leaked US State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks also later confirmed this event: “[Somali Trasnsitional Government Prime Minister] Meles termed the second AC-130 gunship strike on January 23 as “terrific.” The targets were hit, and there were no civilian casualties. The problem was that in less than 24 hours after the strike, the Washington Post published a report on it, clearly showing there is no “opsec” on these military operations, he said. (NOTE: The press leak comes at a very sensitive time. PM Meles is hosting the African Union Summit, which will attract over 30 heads of state to select a new AU Assembly chair. END NOTE.) The headlines on Somalia are not diplomacy and peace-building, but U.S. military operations. This has caused the Arab League and European Union, as well as some African states, to question/weaken support for IGASOM and peace-building in Somalia, the Prime Minister remarked.”

The incident occured at approximately 4:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–3 women)
  • 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 Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–9
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the border village Waldena. Various mapping sources point to different areas for this village but were not conclusive about its location. The village should be somewhere in this area between the towns Dhobley and Hosingo: 0.074253, 41.120546. 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

Washington Post, January 24th, 2017:

"The United States launched an airstrike in Somalia against suspected terrorist targets _ the second such attack this month, defense officials said Wednesday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the action was carried out in secret, provided few details about the strike by an Air Force AC-130 gunship earlier this week and were uncertain whether the intended target was killed.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 8
  • (2–3 women)
  • 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 Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–9
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM087-C

Incident date

August 16–17, 2017

Location

Sheikh Ahmed Yare, 15 miles from Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.494527, 42.777868 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Seven civilians from the same family including a wife and husband died in US airstrikes which reportedly hit civilian homes near Jilib, according to two reports. The victims are named below.

The US announced it carried out a series of attacks between August 16th and 17th, allegedly killing up to seven al Shabaab fighters. However according to local sources seven civilians also died.

Initially this was reported as three strikes by AFRICOM. However, it later changed the way it recorded air operations, it told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

From October 2017, AFRICOM moved from counting each individual attack on a target as a strike, to recording as a strike whenever they have had the desired effect on the target, regardless of the number of attacks that may take.

A US defence official told CNN that pro-government Somali troops, accompanied by US military advisers, came under direct attack from a group of al Shabaab fighters in the early hours of August 17th. They had been approaching the objective of a planned counter-terrorism raid at the time. The US launched a self-defence strike after returning fire from US-Somali ground forces did not stop the attack, CNN reported.

This strike was conducted under authorities approved by US President Donald Trump in March 2017. CNN said the intended target was members of al Shabaab’s intelligence network.

The Somali government separately announced that Somali security forces, in coordination with international partners, had conducted an operation in Jillib. It said seven al Shabaab members were killed, including a senior leader responsible for multiple bombings in the capital.

However, reports emerged on August 18th that a strike a day earlier by “unidentified foreign warplanes” approximately 10km from Jillib had killed seven civilians, all from the same family and including small children. Locals suspected it was an American attack.

According to All Africa, “The foreign military warplanes fired several missiles on the area, some struck civilian houses, killing seven people from same family, including women and children.” The Guardian also later said that small children died in the attack.

US Africa Command acknowledged at the time that it was aware of the allegation of civilian casualties, saying: “As with any allegation we receive, we will review any information we have about the incident, including information provided by third parties, such as the proximity of the location to the authorised airstrikes, and any other relevant information presented.”

The Guardian published an article in January 2018 detailing strikes in Somalia that had led to allegations of civilian casualties. Included in this were the explosions in Ahmed Yare village, about 15 miles outside the town of Jillib.

In a phone interview from Kismayo, Halima Sheikh Yare said her cousin Sheikh Mohamed, a “renowned cleric”, was killed along with his wife and five male relatives. She told the Guardian that her cousin was a farmer as well as a religious teacher and local imam, and that he was not a leader of al Shabaab.

Hassan Muhumed, a resident of Jillib who visited Ahmed Yare shortly after the strike, said al Shabaab fighters had visited to address locals a day before the attack – but had left shortly afterwards. He also stated that all those killed were civilians.

A spokesperson for the US military told the Guardian that an internal investigation had found allegations of civilian casualties near Jillib at this time were “not credible”.

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM again confirmed it had struck what it says was an “al-Shabaab Named Objective” (an “AS Leader”), in the vicinity of Jilib.

The incident occured during the night.

The victims were named as:

Family members (7)

  • Sheikh Mohamed Adult male killed
  • Wife of Sheikh Mohamed Adult female killed
  • Male relative of Sheikh Mohamed Child male killed
  • Male relative of Sheikh Mohamed Child male killed
  • Male relative of Sheikh Mohamed Age unknown male killed
  • Male relative of Sheikh Mohamed Age unknown male killed
  • Male relative of Sheikh Mohamed Age unknown male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7
  • (2 children1 woman4–6 men)
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    7

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the town Jilib (جيليب), for which the coordinates are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Two sources mention that the strike targeted a village 10 kilometers or 15 miles away from Jilib called Bulu Sheikh/Ahmed Yare/Sheikh Ahmed Yare, but due to limited information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of this village.

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
  • Jan 23, 2018
  • The Guardian article states: "A spokesperson for the US military said an internal investigation had found allegations of civilian casualties near Jilib at this time were “not credible”.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Between August 16-17, the Department of Defense conducted a series of three (3) precision airstrikes against al-Shabaab militants, killing seven (7) fighters. The operation occurred in Jilib, Somalia, about 200 miles southwest of Mogadishu. The U.S. conducted this operation in coordination with Somali forces.

U.S. forces work closely with Somali military forces against al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate's ability to recruit, train, and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in the United States.

Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and is dedicated to providing safe haven for terrorists. Al-Shabaab has publicly committed to planning and conducting attacks against the U.S. and our allies. We continue to work in coordination with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al-Shabaab and help achieve stability and security throughout the region.

We will continue to assess the results of the operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operational security.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7
  • (2 children1 woman4–6 men)
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    7

Sources (10) [ collapse]