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
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type

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
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected 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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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

United States Armed 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

United States Armed 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
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM123-C

Incident date

April 1, 2018

Location

Ceel Buur, Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

4.621699, 46.454628 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Up to four civilians, including one child and one woman, were killed along with up to five al Shabaab fighters as a US airstrike struck El Burr, Galmudug, international media reported. Following a year of denials, US Africa Command admitted in April 2019 that civilians had in fact died in the event – and that the US Congress had been misled.

The event marked the first time in twelve years of military actions in Somalia that AFRICOM had publicly conceded civilian harm.

US Africa Command’s initial statement asserted that “U.S. Forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab militants near El Burr, Somalia, the afternoon of April 1, killing five (5) terrorists and destroying one (1) vehicle. We assess no civilians were killed in this airstrike.”

However, civilian harm allegations were later confirmed by US Africa Command following sharp questioning by Congress, and a major report by Amnesty International alleging civilian harm from US actions in Somalia. Its Director of Operations told reporters in 2019 that elements of AFRICOM had in fact  known of the civilian harm for a year: “The command received an allegation of civilian casualties at the time, but determined that it was not credible.

“About a week later, an ‘AFRICOM subordinate unit conducting counterterrorism operation in Somalia’ received new information, Olson said, which prompted the team to open up its investigation. That investigation concluded that the strike 12 months ago had actually killed the woman and child along with four al-Shabab militants. AFRICOM said it was only informed of the new information, investigation, and discovery of civilian casualties last week, after the commander of AFRICOM, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, launched an audit of all U.S. airstrikes in Somalia since 2017.”

As Defense Post noted: “The error was compounded when senior leaders said during congressional testimony that U.S. forces had caused zero civilian casualties in Africa. Africom commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser had ordered a review of airstrikes conducted in Somalia since 2017 “due to a recent increase in airstrikes and continued interest by Amnesty International and Congress on civilian casualties,” the release said.”

AFRICOM issued a public statement on April 5th 2019 which said: “On March 30, 2019, the command was notified about the results of a post-strike internal assessment conducted in April 2018 that found credible evidence of the two civilian casualties. Unfortunately, the finding was not properly reported to U.S. Africa Command headquarters.

“Because of the reporting error, U.S. Africa Command was not informed of the assessment’s conclusion-and subsequently the information was not reported to external authorities, such as the host nation and Congress. Consequently, on April 2, 2018, U.S. Africa Command stated in a press release based on an initial post-strike intelligence review the strike killed five al-Shabaab terrorists, and that the command assessed “no civilians were killed in this airstrike.” Unaware of the subsequent assessment and findings, senior leaders later stated during congressional testimony and media engagements that U.S. forces caused zero civilian casualties in Africa. U.S. Africa Command is committed to transparency in its reporting of civilian casualties. While believed to be an isolated occurrence, the reporting error is being addressed.”

Reporting at the time of the incident had included some mention of civilian casualties.

An al Shabaab statement reported by local media said two prominent local elders, Ali Hared and Yusuf Dhegay, were killed. VOA described Dhegay as a poet, but that “[Somali] Government officials said Dhegey used his poems to incite violence and help al-Shabab recruit.”

All Africa also reported the death of a woman, but it was unclear if she had been included in the al Shabaab statement. The news site however said the strike took place on April 2nd, not April 1st.

The New Arab said that pro-al Shabaab media outlets reported two civilian deaths, referencing senior commanders of the group. Sources in the area also told All Africa that a drone fired a missile which hit a convoy carrying civilians, but no additional details were given.

Two Somali intelligence officials meanwhile told AP that the strike hit a vehicle carrying senior al Shabaab officials and that the dead included a woman.

After reaching out for clarification, US Africa Command confirmed to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2019 that a woman and a child were killed in the strike, as was initially reported by the BBC.

The strike, according to All Africa, took place in Da’ar, an al Shabaab controlled area around 20 kilometres from El Burr. El Burr is in the semi-autonomous region of Galmudug. In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  again confirmed it had struck on this date what it says were “al Shabaab Fighters”, in the vicinity of El Burr, Somalia.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

  • Ali Hared Adult male killed
  • Yusuf Dhegay Adult male killed
  • Unnamed Adult female killed
  • Unnamed Child killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (1 child1 woman2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (25) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Somalia, March 26th 2019

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy in Da’ar area, about 20 kilometers west of the town El Bur (or Ceel Buur). Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for Ceel Buur are: 4.685184, 46.619229. The village located exactly 20 kilometers west of the town is called Dab Xarar, for which the coordinates are: 4.621699, 46.454628. This could refer to the Da’ar area mentioned in the reports.

  • The village Dab Xarar located 20 kilometers west of Ceel Buur/El Bur (radius of 20 kilometers marked in red)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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 strike blast
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    Near el Burr, Somalia
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Aug 1, 2019
  • Apr 5, 2019
  • During a commander-directed review of airstrikes conducted in Somalia since 2017, U.S. Africa Command learned an April 1, 2018 airstrike killed two civilians. The commander, U.S. Africa Command directed the review due to a recent increase in airstrikes and continued interest by Amnesty International and Congress on civilian casualties. "Credibility, transparency, and accountability are fundamental to military operations," said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command. "It is critically important that people understand we adhere to exacting standards and when we fall short, we acknowledge shortcomings and take appropriate action." The April 2018 airstrike was designed to degrade the al-Shabaab terrorist group near El Burr, Somalia. In the airstrike four al-Shabaab militants also were killed. The airstrike was not one of the allegations presented by Amnesty International in its March 2019 report. On March 30, 2019, the command was notified about the results of a post-strike internal assessment conducted in April 2018 that found credible evidence of the two civilian casualties. Unfortunately, the finding was not properly reported to U.S. Africa Command headquarters. Because of the reporting error, U.S. Africa Command was not informed of the assessment's conclusion-and subsequently the information was not reported to external authorities, such as the host nation and Congress. Consequently, on April 2, 2018, U.S. Africa Command stated in a press release based on an initial post-strike intelligence review the strike killed five al-Shabaab terrorists, and that the command assessed "no civilians were killed in this airstrike.” Unaware of the subsequent assessment and findings, senior leaders later stated during congressional testimony and media engagements that U.S. forces caused zero civilian casualties in Africa. U.S. Africa Command is committed to transparency in its reporting of civilian casualties. While believed to be an isolated occurrence, the reporting error is being addressed. The Federal Government of Somalia was notified of this newly learned information, and U.S. Africa Command remains in close coordination with our partners. U.S. Africa Command takes prudent measures to minimize civilian casualties and fully complies with the Law of Armed Conflict. The Command has processes in place to ensure the safety and protection of the local population remains a top priority. "Airstrike assessments are a critical and continuous component of operations," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. "Trust and credibility are central to our operations. If an innocent loss of life occurs, we are committed to being transparent and learning from this regrettable incident to prevent future occurrences." The command has executed 28 airstrikes in Somalia in 2019, compared to 47 in 2018 and 35 in 2017.

  • A declassified AFRICOM document earlier made the following determination: "Multiple CIVCAS allegations of a U.S. strike that took place on 1 April 2018. The time frame and geographic location coincide with a known strike, however, the number and type of casualties are inconsistent with confirmed BDA [Battle Damage Assessment]. NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: Intelligence sources indicate that all occupants of the vehicle were adult males. Two al-Shabaab mid- to high-level leaders were killed in the strike."

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab militants near El Burr, Somalia, the afternoon of April 1, killing five (5) terrorists and destroying one (1) vehicle.

We assess no civilians were killed in this airstrike.

U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting terrorists, their training camps, and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (1 child1 woman2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (25) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM274-C

Incident date

February 2, 2020

Location

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

US Africa Command declared on the same day that it had conducted an airstrike “in the vicinity of Jilib” which it said had killed “one (1) terrorist.” However local reports said that one young woman was killed and two or three other women injured in the event in Jilib town, which AFRICOM later acknowledged.

According to AFRICOM’s original press release, “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab terrorist in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, Feb. 2. Initial assessment concluded the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.”

However the day after the attack, Somali reporter Mohamed Osman Ali tweeted: “Very sad to learn that an airstrike on Sunday evening killed my brother-in-law’s daughter, and injured two of his daughters and his mother who is also my aunt and my mother-in-law in Jilib town, 380 KM south of Mogadishu. surprised to those saying no civilian casualties!”.

Naming three victims on February 4th, Radio Morad said that one civilian woman had been killed and two others injured: “#AFRICOM claimed killing 1 #AlShabaab fighter & no civilians harmed. But locals reporting 3 civilian casualties, all women.”

According to the Somali Guardian, “Residents told Somali media outlets that a US drone carried out the strike on Monday night which fired several missiles to a residential area inside Jilib town. Several missiles hit a civilian home killing a 17-year-old mentally ill girl, wounding her mother and younger sister who were then rushed to a hospital.”

According to the Defence Post, an AFRICOM official was informed by a relative of the civilian deaths prior to its announcement of no harm: “Abdi said his family was unable to obtain photo evidence of the incident because Shabaab does not allow smartphones in its territory, but confirmed the identity of his relatives in photos posted on Twitter, and provided The Defense Post with other family photos for comparison. Abdi is not sure who took the photos that were posted online, but the experienced journalist said it may have been members of al-Shabaab. He said it was possible the strike may have been targeting Shabaab militants outside the house because the group fully controls Jilib, about 110 km north of Kismayo in Somalia’s Middle Juba region.

“Abdi said he approached an American military officer from AFRICOM’s communications office during a conference in Mogadishu and detailed his story hours before the command released a statement assessing that no civilians were killed. ‘He only said sorry about your relatives,’ Abdi told The Defense Post. ‘He did not tell me anything further, or ask me. He said we try our best not to damage or hit civilian areas,’ he recalled. Ismael Mukhtar Omar, the Somalia Federal Government’s official spokesperson, corroborated Abdi’s account, saying he was present for the conversation with the AFRICOM officer.”

In April 2020, Amnesty International reported that 18-year-old Nurto Kusow Omar Abukar had been killed in the airstrike after she was struck in the head by a heavy metal fragment. The strike injured Nurto’s younger sisters. Fatuma (12) was struck in the clavicle and chest, and remains in the hospital as of April 2020. 7-year-old Adey was hit in the ear. The sister’s grandmother Khadija Mohamed Gedow (around 70 years old) was hit in the knee and is still unable to walk.

According to a weapon expert’s analysis of photographs of the munitions used, it was “likely a US GBU-69/B Small Glide Munition with a 16-kilogramme warhead” that hit the family’s house around 8pm on February 2nd. The report states that “the family of five, who lived in the home, had just sat down for dinner after the Isha prayer, about 8pm, when at least one munition struck their residence. The cariish home, made of wood, sticks and mud, was significantly damaged in the blast.”

The girls’ father, Kusow Omar Abukar (50) was also present in the house during the airstrike, but made it out without injuries. He told Amnesty: “I never imagined it was going to hit us. I suddenly heard a huge sound. It felt like our house had collapsed. There was a huge sound and a bright flash and a huge smoke. The sand and the smoke filled my eyes.” Mr. Omar Akubar is a farmer and, according to his relatives, not a member of Al Shabaab.

According to the report, “prior to the strike, witnesses heard the sound of an aircraft above Jilib, but reported that there was no sign of fighting in the area at that time.”

According to Amnesty International, neither the US or Somalian authorities have reached out to the Kusow family for compensations or medical assistance.

Responding to the Amnesty report, US Air Force Major Karl Wiest told the Defense Post on April 1st that an assessment of the incident is ongoing: “Our in-depth post-strike analysis relies on intelligence methods that are not available to non-military organizations, including Amnesty International.”

Al Jazeera interviewed Kusaw Omar Abukar via telephone, revealing more details about the incident. Abukar confirmed that his daughter Nurto had been disabled and that his surviving daughter Fadumo’s situation remained critical, stating that the girl had undergone two surgeries and is in desperate need of further medical assistance. “We don’t have good hospitals here. And we can’t afford to take her anywhere else”, her father told Al Jazeera.

Marine Corps Times reported that, following the Amnesty report, AFRICOM officials “said they intend to issue a new quarterly report on the status of ongoing civilian casualty allegations and assessments starting at the end of April [2020].”

Human Rights Watch published a detailed investigation into the incident saying: ” Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that 1 civilian, a woman, was killed, and 3 others were injured, including 2 girls.”

The NGO also interviewed the victims: “Nurto’s aunt, who reached the family’s home the following morning, recounted what family members told her: ‘Nurto was standing along the gate, and my mum was also near the gate. The airstrike hit the ground, the pieces went up and hit Nurto in the head and killed her.’

Nurto’s and the two girls’ father, Kusow Omar Abukar, told a relative that he heard a huge sound and then couldn’t see anything for about 30 minutes, just a lot of smoke and dust. He said he could not understand what was happening to him. He told the relative, ‘I was so worried about my daughters but couldn’t see them.'”

In its second quarterly civilian casualty report, published on July 28th 2020, AFRICOM accepted responsibility for civilian harm in this event: “Between Feb. 3 and June 17, 2020 USAFRICOM received eight total allegations as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on February 2, 2020. After a thorough assessment into the facts and circumstances following the Feb. 2, 2020 airstrike, USAFRICOM substantiates the death of one (1) civilian and three (3) injured.”

The incident occured at approximately 8:00 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (4)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 child)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (11) [ collapse]

  • Apparent missile fragment from a February 2nd 2020 strike on Jilib (via Radio Morad)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    The body of 18 year old Nurto Kusow, reportedly killed in a US strike on Jilib on February 2nd 2020 (via Radio Morad).
  • 12-year-old Fatima Kusow, reportedly injured in a US strike on Jilib on February 2nd 2020 (via Radio Morad).
  • 70 year old Khadija Mohamed, reportedly injured in a US strike on Jilib on February 2nd 2020 (via Radio Morad)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Jilib, for which the coordinates are: 0.494527, 42.777868.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    1
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    3
  • Stated location
    in the vicinity of Jilib
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Jul 28, 2020
  • February 3, 2020 (Substantiated) Between Feb. 3 and June 17, 2020 USAFRICOM received eight total allegations as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on February 2, 2020. After a thorough assessment into the facts and circumstances following the Feb. 2, 2020 airstrike, USAFRICOM substantiates the death of one (1) civilian and three (3) injured.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab terrorist in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, Feb. 2.
"Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda affiliate seeking to further its jihadist agenda," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. "Removal of even one terrorist makes the region and the U.S. safer. Continuous pressure on the network is necessary to prevent al-Shabaab from building a safe haven and exporting violence."
Initial assessment concluded the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist.
We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.
U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia 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 and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 child)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM182-C

Incident date

January 20, 2019

Location

Radio Andalus, 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

A reported airstrike or bomb blast by an unknown party on an al Shabaab radio station in Buale or Jilib town killed up to 25 al Shabaab supporters – five of them journalists. US Africa Command later denied responsibility.

According to Sonna Somalia, “At least 10 people have been killed and more than 30 others injured in a bomb blast in Jilib district in Middle Jubba region, witnesses said. The shelling caused heavy casualties to Al-Shabaab journalists who were in the compound during the shelling. Officials in the Jubbaland state confirmed the shelling on Al-Andulus Radio, an Al-Shabaab radio station, killing about 20 militants. According to local media, at least five Al-Shabaab journalists were killed and the radio station was demolished.”

It named the dead journalists as Feisalal Yare, Mohamed Adan Nasrudiin, Abdikarim Seyfulah, and Hassan Abdirahman.

Mogadishu News said that five journalists and 20 al Shabaab fighters were killed, in what it claimed was an airstrike on Jilib town.

In April 2020, AFRICOM denied responsibility for the event noting: “January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming up to five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on January 20, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.”

Airwars continues to count this as a possible US action, since it may have been a non-declared CIA strike.

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
    0 – 5
  • (0–5 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–25
  • Belligerents reported injured
    30

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted Al Shabaab radio station Al Andalus in the town of Jilib. Some sources also mention the town Bu’aale, but Radio Andalus is known to be located in Jilib. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location for Radio Andalus. The coordinates for the town Jilib (جيليب) are: 0.494527, 42.777868.

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
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming up to five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on January 20, 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, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 5
  • (0–5 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–25
  • Belligerents reported injured
    30

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM095-C

Incident date

October 16, 2017

Location

Farah Waeys, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.9922, 44.861 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike near Bariire on October 16th was confirmed by the US military. However, numerous allegations of civilian harm by international media have been denied.

Whilst US Africa Command did not initially publish a press release regarding this strike, they confirmed to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at the time that they carried out a strike against al Shabaab at 16:30 local time. A spokesperson said the operation occurred in southern Somalia, about 35 miles southwest of Mogadishu.

The Guardian published an article in January 2018 detailing recent strikes in Somalia that had seen allegations of civilian casualties. One took place on an unspecified day in October. US officials had confirmed a single strike 35 miles southwest of Mogadishu. Local sources told the Guardian that eight civilians in the village of Awdhegle had been injured. An elder from the village said said that three women, a child and four men were transported to a hospital in Mogadishu after their house was hit.“They were herders and farmers, not al-Shabaab ,” the elder said. A doctor at the hospital told the Guardian two men and a woman injured in an airstrike between Awdhegle and Barire were treated.

In March 2019, Amnesty International published a major report on civilian harm in Somalia that detailed this incident. Their report claimed that a US armed drone twice targeted a suspected al Shabaab vehicle travelling between Awdheegle and Bariire – two al Shabaab controlled towns. The attacks reportedly killed two nearby civilians and injured five others, including two children, alongside an unknown number of al Shaabab fighters.

Amnesty spoke to eyewitnesses who told them that the first strike missed the vehicle and struck the eastern bank of the road next to some makeshift homes in a settlement. This strike allegedly killed Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Yusuf Hussein, a 25 year old farmer. A second munition was then fired that struck the vehicle as it was continuing to the north of the settlement.

Bashir, who fled the attack, told Amnesty that he returned to find Sheikh Ahmed dying in his home – just 20 steps away from where the munition had struck – as shrapnel had gone right through him.

Amnesty also named Siidow Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan, a 40 year old farmer as being fatally injured in the attack – he was reportedly taken to Sudan for further treatment before he died a few days later.

A further five civilians were injured in the drone strike, including the eight year old son of Siidow, Mohamed Siidow Abdullahi, and a six year old boy named Khalif Adow Osman.

The NGO added that “According to records obtained by Amnesty International, a total of 12 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and two GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II laser-guided bombs were dropped by the US Air Force in Somalia on this day. Those weapons were fired from MQ-9 Reaper drones, based in Djibouti. Two Hellfire missiles were most likely used in this attack, based on the types and extent of damage and injuries, and that a munition with a powered rocket-motor is more-often used to strike a moving vehicle.”

US Africa Command denied that any civilians were harmed in response to Amnesty’s allegations:

“AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting a vehicle containing al-Shabaab fighters. Social media posts alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event. AFRICOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment regarding this strike and determined it is not likely to have caused the civilian casualties. Information gathered before and after the strike indicated that all individuals injured or killed were members or affiliates of al-Shabaab.”

It said it still assessed that the strike resulted in “three enemy wounded in action and one vehicle destroyed”.

Responding to the AFRICOM statements, Amnesty noted: “The fact that the vehicle and those in it were the apparent targets would support the assertions that those killed or injured beside the road were civilians uninvolved in the conflict. The burden is on the US military to explain why they do not count these individuals, including children, who were not the intended targets but nevertheless were killed and injured, as civilian casualties.

Amnesty International’s evidence above establishes that contrary to AFRICOM’s assessment, civilians were killed during the attack in Farah Waeys. The evidence also suggests that the US failed to take necessary precautions to ensure that their objective – which in this case appears have been a truck of Al-Shabaab members – was targeted at the appropriate time and with sufficient precision to minimize the likelihood of damage to civilians and civilian objects. Since the targeted vehicle was travelling along the road between Awdheegle and Barire and the vast majority of the area adjacent to the road that runs between the two towns is uninhabited, this raises questions as to why the US military attacked when civilians were in the immediate vicinity, when it appears to have had opportunities to do so in locations where no civilians would be at risk. If feasible precautions were taken civilians may have been spared.

“Given the glaring failure to take feasible precautions to spare civilians, the attack may have been indiscriminate and the fatalities and injuries, and damage caused, unlawful. Indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians can constitute war crimes. The US authorities should ensure an independent, impartial investigation is conducted into this attack.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM said it had struck what it says were al Shabaab fighters, in the vicinity of Mubaraak.

The incident occured at 4:30 pm local time.

  • Siidow Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan 40 years old male killed
  • Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Yusuf Hussein 25 years old male killed
  • Mohamed Siidow Abdullahi 8 years old male injured
  • Khalif Adow Osman 6 years old male injured

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5–8
  • 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
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle between Awdheegle and Bariire. According to Amnesty research the coordinates for the location of the strike are: 1.9922, 44.861, in the village Farah Waeys.

  • Geolocational imagery released by Amnesty, March 2019

    Imagery:
    Amnesty International

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
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm, Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Nov 1, 2018
  • AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting a vehicle containing al-Shabaab fighters. Social media posts alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event. AFRICOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment regarding this strike and determined it is not likely to have caused the civilian casualties. Information gathered before and after the strike indicated that all individuals injured or killed were members or affiliates of al-Shabaab.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Via email:
"(...) in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia against al-Shabaab on Mon., Oct. 16 at approximately 4:30 p.m. local Somalia time.

We are currently assessing the results of the strike.

The operation occurred in southern Somalia, about 35 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5–8
  • 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
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM287-C

Incident date

March 5, 2020

Location

حرمك, Near Kunya Barrow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.7928186, 43.3841839 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Two civilians including a named woman were reported injured by a US airstrike near Kunya Barrow.

Halgan Media noted: “A pro militant mouthpiece dubbed Somali Memo claimed a mother of 5 children was wounded in the drone strike, when reigned down on there home overnight. According to Somali Memo, the victim has been identified as Zeynab Abubakar and is currently recuperating at a makeshift medical clinic in the town of Kuunyo Barrow.

The Halgan Media service desk reached out to local contacts in the Lower Shabelle province but were unable to confirm nor deny claims made by Al Shabaab and US AFRICOM. The town of Kunyo Barrow is under Al Shabaab rule, making it impossible for outsiders to access.”

Somali Memo indeed reported that a family home was hit injuring one woman. However, it in turn cited Radio Alfurqaan as a source. It had noted: “Two missiles hit the home of a family in Kuunyo Barrow, injuring a mother there. The mother, who has five children, was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Fortunately there were no casualties among the children but they were near to the missile strikes. Zeynab Abukar was injured in her leg, according to other mothers who visited her. Another young person who works in the tailoring business was also injured in the shelling.”

AFRICOM officially declared conducting the strike, saying no civilians were harmed: “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab terrorist in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow, Somalia, Mar. 5. The command’s initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.”

The event was not mentioned in AFRICOM’s second quarterly civilian casualty assessment.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a strike in the vicinity of Kunya Barrow (حرمك), for which, due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The coordinates for Kunya Barrow are: 0.7928186, 43.3841839

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Open incident
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab terrorist in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow, Somalia, Mar. 5.
“Al-Shabaab’s leadership recently reiterated its primary focus of attacking American and Western targets beyond Somalia’s borders. Al-Shabaab remains fully committed to exporting violence,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, deputy director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. “We support the international security assistance model in Somalia. Our support, coupled with other international partners, restricts that ambition as the Somali forces continue to grow in capability.”
In Somalia the U.S. works closely with our international partners on security sector development efforts, which include the United Nations, European Union, African Union, AMISOM and other troop contributing countries. Together, we remain committed to Somali-led progress on improving conditions for a well-trained Somali National Security Force that can assume and sustain security within the country. By virtue of our capabilities, influence, and credibility, the U.S. is uniquely postured to support Somali efforts, including helping coordinate other international partner engagement. Incremental progress within Somalia is occurring because of the ongoing international effort.
U.S. Africa Command and our international partners recognize that stability in Somalia will not be achieved through purely military means. The partner and allied forces we work with on a daily basis are trying to create security conditions to enhance governance and economic development. As such, U.S. Africa Command’s security cooperation efforts are closely linked with the U.S. Embassy in Somalia’s political and economic initiatives targeting the root causes of instability.
The command’s initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed one (1) terrorist.
We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM312-C

Incident date

July 29, 2020

Location

جيليب, 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

The US military reported on the same day that it had conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab fighters in the town of Jilib. However it was locally claimed that the attack had killed three young children, whose bodies were shown on social media.

In a press release published on the evening of the attack, AFRICOM noted: “The command’s initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed one (1) terrorist and wounded one (1) terrorist. An al-Shabaab compound was destroyed in the airstrike.”

The release also noted that “U.S. Africa Command is aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this airstrike. At this time, U.S. Africa Command currently assesses no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.”

However al Shabaab released images which it said were taken at the scene of the US strike, showing the bodies of three young boys and a destroyed structure. Morad news named the dead as Abukar Ahmad, 8 years old; Abdisamad Hussain, aged 12; and Abdullahi Mohamad, aged 13.

AllBalcad said: “The bombing, which took place at around 2pm, featured pro-al-Shabaab media showing the bodies of three children and the destruction of a house. The children were said to be between the ages of 8 and 13 and Alshabab did not say who else was injured in the bombing.”

Mareeg reported: “But the strike has killed at least 3 children under the age of 13, and destroyed their wooden house in the town.

The children were playing outside their home when they were struck by a heavy metal fragment from the munition and then, all died on scene, a witness, who asked to be anonymous said.”

Halgan Media and other sources said it was a drone strike.

In it fourth quarter civilian casualty assessment AFRIOM said: “After review, the reports were assessed as unsubstantiated. Contrary to the reports stating the airstrike targeted a residence killing three children, the airstrike was executed on July 29, 2020 against two al-Shabaab members on a known al-Shabaab compound used as a senior al-Shabaab leadership meeting place. U.S. intelligence confirmed that the compound was only accessible to al-Shabaab members, and the casualties of the strike were al-Shabaab members. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action. One source also used one photo that was previously published in 2015.”

Airwars found that one picture used by Goobjoog had indeed been used before.

The incident occured at approximately 2:00 pm local time.

  • Abukar Ahmad 8 years old male killed
  • Abdisamad Hussain 12 years old male killed
  • Abdullahi Mohamad 13 years old male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 children)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (19) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (13) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

  • 'The United States says a bombing in Jilib has killed a number of al-Shabab members, wounded others and destroyed a military base. Al Shabaab has denied the allegations, saying three children were killed in the shelling. Expect their names.'
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Picture of alleged victim of US airstrike on Jilib on July 29h, 2020 (via Somali Memo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Picture of alleged victim of US airstrike on Jilib on July 29h, 2020 (via Somali Memo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Picture of alleged victim of US airstrike on Jilib on July 29h, 2020 (via Somali Memo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Picture of alleged victim of US airstrike on Jilib on July 29h, 2020 (via Hon Siciid Ibnu dhakhtar)
  • Aftermath of alleged US airstrike on Jilib on July 29h, 2020 (via Somali Memo)
  • Aftermath of alleged US airstrike on Jilib on July 29h, 2020 (via Somali Memo)
  • Aftermath of alleged US airstrike on Jilib on July 29h, 2020 (via Somali Memo)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Jilib, for which the generic coordinates are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Nov 6, 2020
  • July 29, 2020 (Unsubstantiated) USAFRICOM received three (3) reports from online media sources and a social media account claiming up to three (3) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on July 29, 2020. After review, the reports were assessed as unsubstantiated. Contrary to the reports stating the airstrike targeted a residence killing three children, the airstrike was executed on July 29, 2020 against two al-Shabaab members on a known al-Shabaab compound used as a senior al-Shabaab leadership meeting place. U.S. intelligence confirmed that the compound was only accessible to al-Shabaab members, and the casualties of the strike were al-Shabaab members. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action. One source also used one photo that was previously published in 2015.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab terrorists in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, July 29.

“U.S. Africa Command continues to assist the Federal Government of Somalia in disrupting al-Shabaab plans for destruction,” said U.S. Air Force Col Chris Karns, director of public affairs, AFRICOM. “We remain committed to supporting our partners in our mutual fight against violent extremism.”

The command's initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed one (1) terrorist and wounded one (1) terrorist. An al-Shabaab compound was destroyed in the airstrike.

U.S. Africa Command is aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this airstrike. At this time, U.S. Africa Command currently assesses no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.

As with any allegation of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command reviews reasonably available information it has about the incident. U.S. Africa Command complies with the law of armed conflict and takes all feasible precautions to minimize risk to civilians.

In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use a range of effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people. Together with partner and allied forces, U.S. Africa Command works on a daily basis to improve security conditions to enhance governance and economic development while preventing al-Shabaab's desire to expand their reach and further export violence.

U.S. Africa Command continues to work with its Somali partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 children)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (19) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM237-C

Incident date

July 3, 2019

Location

Iskushuban or Mareero, Bari, Somalia

Geolocation

10.170363, 49.847404 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Province/governorate

Airwars assessment

According to a local source, heavy fighting near the port of Bari in Puntland killed two people and injured five others, including civilians. AFRICOM later declared that “no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.”

Radio Shabelle initially said that an airstrike by an unknown party had contributed to the violence – though did not blame it directly for the casualties.

“It is not clear what led to the shelling, and it is not yet known who carried out the airstrike. There was no immediate comment from the Puntland government regarding the shelling,” noted Radio Shabelle.

“There was fighting for several hours between Puntland forces and a militia guarding a migrant group operating there. Reports indicate that Puntland forces with armored vehicles attacked the militants who were based in the Marero area of ​​Bari region.

“At least two people were killed in the fighting, while five others were wounded, including civilians.”

Halgan Media – when tweeting a link to the Radio Shabelle story – claimed the strike on a location it gave as Iskashubun – had been conducted by US forces.

However in April 2020 US Africa Command explicitly denied responsibility, noting: “January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming two (2) civilians were killed and five (5) injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Iskashubun, Somalia, on July 3, 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 local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–5

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident gave conflicting accounts on the location where civilians were killed. Radio Shabelle reported that various places in Bari, northern Puntland, were bombed. There was heavy fighting in the Mareero area, the outskirts of the port town Bossaso, for which the coordinates are: 11.33052, 49.29675. At the same time it said that shelling took place in Iskushuban district. Halgan Media, only pointed to the town of Iskushuban as the location of a strike. The coordinates for the town of Iskushuban are: 10.28178, 50.23009. It is unclear where in Bari the civilians were killed and injured. The generic coordinates for the Bari region are: 10.170363, 49.847404. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Bossaso, Mareero and Iskushuban in the Bari region (borders of Bari marked in red)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming two (2) civilians were killed and five (5) injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Iskashubun, Somalia, on July 3, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.

Original strike reports

Unknown
  • English
    /
    Original

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–5

Sources (3) [ collapse]