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

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
    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
    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

USSOM141-C

Incident date

August 20–26, 2018

Location

Basra, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

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

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

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

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

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

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (12)

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    10 – 12
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • 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

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    Basra
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    10 – 12
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • 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

Sources (1) [ 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
    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]

Incident Code

USSOM250a-C

Incident date

October 3, 2019

Location

Abaloni, in the vicinity of Hosingow, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.174064, 41.269959 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were allegedly killed by a US or Kenyan airstrike on Abaloni. AFRICOM later denied conducting a strike in the area.

Hussein Eliyow tweeted: “SOMALIA: Reports of US /Kenya airstrike in Abaloni village, outside Hosingow town last night. Residents say the airstrike killed at least two nomads. More details to follow.”

AFRICOM discounted the incident in its first quarterly civilian casualty report: “October 3, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming two (2) civilians were killed and one (1) injured as a result of an airstrike in the vicinity of Lower Jubba, Somalia. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or at the location.”

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Abaloni, allegedly in the vicinity of Hosingow (هوسئنجو), close to the Kenyan border. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Hosingow are: -0.174064, 41.269959.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible
    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
  • October 3, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming two (2) civilians were killed and one (1) injured as a result of an airstrike in the vicinity of Lower Jubba, Somalia. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or at the location.

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM138-C

Incident date

August 2, 2018

Location

Gobanle (Gobaale), Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

3.123005, 44.775008 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were reportedly killed in a US strike in Gobanle village, according to Amnesty International – though US Africa Command claimed that only four “terrorists” were killed.

However an AFRICOM declassified assessment of the event published in July 2019 indicated that the US itself was unaware of the identities of those in the vehicle – most likely having used pattern of life before attacking.

A BBC Somalia report on the same day as the strike said locals had said civilians were among those killed in the targeted vehicle. Mogadishu Update tweeted the following: “BREAKING: At least three civilians including well-known businessman identified as Abdi Samad Hassan and one of #Hormuud telecommunication company Engineers killed in an Air strike carried out suspected #US drones near Goobaale village in #Somalia’s L/Shabelle region.”

In March 2019 Amnesty International released a report on civilian harm in Somalia that detailed this event.

The three civilians were driving in a rural area 1km outside of Gonable village when the strike hit their vehicle. Some of the eyewitnesses that Amnesty spoke to said that there was one al Shabaab member in the vehicle that may have been the target of the strike. Amnesty identified the three civilian fatalities by name and age, as listed below.

A senior Lower Shabelle official also confirmed to Amnesty that three civilians were killed in an air strike near Gobanle. “I don’t know why they were hit, but maybe it was a mistake. The US are making a lot of mistakes in this region,” he said.

One witness eyewitness, Ibrahim, described the strike to Amnesty: “When they were away from us we saw a plane circling over them and they went under a tree” Ibrahim, a witness said. The aircraft disappeared from sight but returned shortly afterwards. The vehicle was then hit by an air strike, destroying it completely. “When the plane left they drove away in the vehicle, but the plane came back and hit them when they were in the open. We went there and took them. The four of them died there,”

In a statement, US Africa Command said that they conducted a strike on this day 74 miles northwest of Mogadishu, that killed four “terrorists”. They assessed that no civilian casualties had resulted from the strike.

Witnesses to the attack told Amnesty International that the three civilian victims were not armed and were not members of Al-Shabaab. “They had a shovel and a hammer but no weapons,” one witness said.

In response to Amnesty’s allegations of civilian harm, US Africa Command said:

“AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting individuals who were members of al-Shabaab. The pro-al-Shabaab media outlet, Somaliamemo.net alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event. AFRICOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment and determined that the allegation was not credible based on the unreliability of the source and the fact that the individuals targeted were members of al-Shabaab.”

Separately, US investigative reporter Nick Turse obtained a declassified AFRICOM assessment of the event, also published in July 2019. This strongly indicated that the US did not in fact know the identities of three of those killed in the vehicle, noting only that “Several circumstantial factors indicate that the three adult males in the vehicle were associated with al-Shabaab: The three individuals alleged to be civilians were located in a known al-Shabaab stronghold and accompanying a known al-Shabaab leader and no well digging activity or equipment was observed during target development.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  confirmed it had struck on this date what it says was an “al Shabaab named objective”, in the vicinity of Gobanle, Somalia.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

  • Abdisamad Sheikh Issack Mohamed 35 years old male worked for Hormuud Telecommunications Company killed
  • Adan Hassan Yarow (aka “Adan Dubbe”) 58 years old male married, father of nine killed
  • Abdi Nurow Adan 58 years old male father of nine killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 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
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the August 2nd event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International

Geolocation notes

Amnesty investigation reports that the strike targeted a vehicle at 1 kilometer east of the village of Gobanle (or Gobaale). The coordinates for the village of Gobanle are: 3.12222, 44.76507; and the coordinates for the area 1 kilometer east of the village are: 3.123005, 44.775008.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible
    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
  • Stated location
    IVO Gobanie
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Aug 28, 2018
  • The initial allegation of CIVCAS was identified in a pro al- Shabaab news website, Somaliamemo.net. The allegation indicated that the three adult males in the vehicle with the objective were civilians. Further, it identified these individuals by name alleging that one was a noted local businessman with the Hormuud Telecom Company. The online article indicated that the other two adult males were well diggers and were engaged in digging a well. NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: Intelligence sources identified two of the four adult males in the vehicle were assessed as armed. The lethal strike was conducted in open, low collateral damage terrain while the four adult males were traveling in a vehicle. None of the individuals observed during target development were observed digging a well as reported by Somaliamemo.net. Several circumstantial factors indicate that the three adult males in the vehicle were associated with al-Shabaab: The three individuals alleged to be civilians were located in a known ai-Shabaab stronghold and accompanying a known al-Shabaab leader and no well digging activity or equipment was observed during target development.

Unknown

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants approximately 74 miles northwest of Mogadishu, Somalia, on August 2, killing four (4) terrorists.

We currently assess no civilians were injured or 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
    3
  • (3 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
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM251-C

Incident date

October 25, 2019

Location

Near Ameyra and Timirshe, Puntland, Somalia

Geolocation

10.66599, 50.53527 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike intended to target an Islamic State hideout near the remote Ameyra and Timirshe villages in the Golis Mountain region, killed two civilians and injured another, according to multiple local and international media sources. However in April 2020, AFRICOM insisted the targets “were ISIS-Somalia leadership and media operatives.””

At the time of the attack, multiple local tribal elders told Voice of America that the civilian men were out collecting frankincense.

One local elder from Timishe village near the target of the strikes, Sa’id Abshir Mohamud, said “men sent to the location of the strike brought back the dead bodies of two locally known villagers who went there to collect frankincense.” He also identified the two fatalities, claiming that one of them was mutilated.

“’The three of us went there to collect frankincense days ago. A missile surprisingly targeted where we were, killing the two other men. I ran through a dark smoke and the debris of the mountain rocks and crawled under a nearby mountain cave, then another missile was targeted at my location but the cave and Allah saved me. In the cave, I found out that I had sustained shrapnel injuries and remained there until midnight Friday. I am bleeding and I feel kidney pain,’ Mohamed Mohamud Barre said to VOA, claiming to be the survivor of the strike.”

While VOA couldn’t verify Barre’s claims, a “revered local traditional elder” backed them up, “He took his pregnant wife to Bosaso for medical care but he could not afford to pay the bills. He decided to go the mountains and collect frankincense to sell and then pay the surgery bills for his wife, who is carrying twin babies, one of them dead.”

The same local elder also went on to say that one of the men killed left behind eight orphans, and the other five.

Garowe Online, which reported when the men were still missing, presumed dead – said that according to residents, four missiles were fired by the US drone. Garowe also gave the location of the strike as the “vicinity of Cameyra area near #Timirshe village”.

“We first heard the noise of aircrafts flying low over the mountainous area, then four heavy strikes occurred within the range of about 15 minutes. Then, plumes of black smoke coming from the mountains followed,” one witness told VOA in their initial reporting of the incident.

US Africa Command confirmed a strike in the Golis Mountains region on this day, that they say killed three ISIS terrorists, having assessed that the event caused no civilian harm.

Senior Somali intelligence officials also told AP that the strike “killed three senior officers with Islamic State group-affiliated fighters,” as it targeted their vehicle. One was said to have been a notorious bomb expert. Radio Kulmiye, citing Somali military sources, said the victims were thought to be ISIS ‘officials.’

In April 2020, AFRICOM in its first quarterly civilian casualty report asserted the following: “After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. On October 25, 2019 a kinetic strike was executed against three individuals which U.S. intelligence confirmed were ISIS-Somalia leadership and media operatives. Significant intelligence was compiled to clearly identify the nature and location of the individuals targeted. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the three individuals. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that civilian casualties did not occur due to U.S. military action.”

Airwars has modified its assessment of this event to Contested as a result of AFRICOM’s statement, though the case remains open to review.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a hideout in a mountainous area near the remote villages of Ameyra/Cameyra and Timirshe, on the outskirts of Iskushuban district, 150 kilometers south of the city Bosaso in the Puntland region. Some sources report that it took place in the Golis mountains. According to sources Ameyra must be near the village Timirshe (10.56245, 50.42396), which is indeed around 150 kilometers southeast of Bossaso. The name Ameyra/Cameyra likely refers to a nearby settlement called Xamure/Hamure, for which the coordinates are: 10.66599, 50.53527. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The village Timirshe and Xamure near the town Iskushuban

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible
    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
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • October 25, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming three (3) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of the Golis Mountains, Somalia, on October 25, 2019. AFRICOM received two duplicate allegations of this incident from an online media source on October 27, 2019, and again on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. On October 25, 2019 a kinetic strike was executed against three individuals which U.S. intelligence confirmed were ISIS-Somalia leadership and media operatives. Significant intelligence was compiled to clearly identify the nature and location of the individuals targeted. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the three individuals. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that civilian casualties did not occur due to U.S. military action.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

U.S. airstrike targets ISIS-Somalia in support of the Federal Government of Somalia
In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting ISIS terrorists in the Golis Mountain region, Somalia, on October 25, 2019.

By U.S. AFRICA COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, United States Africa CommandStuttgart, GermanyOct 25, 2019

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting ISIS terrorists in the Golis Mountain region, Somalia, on October 25, 2019.

The Golis Mountains are a known area for terrorist activity. Precision airstrikes such as these support Somali security forces efforts to protect the Somali people from terrorists and support long-term security in the region.

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

Currently, we 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 from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM, and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (8) [ 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
    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]