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

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

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

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

USSOM257-C

Incident date

November 19, 2019

Location

حرمك, Kunya Barrow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US military reported on the same day that it had carried out an airstrike near Qunyo Barrow that killed one “terrorist.” However al Shabaab insisted the victim was a local civilian businessman named Ismail Issa Bhutan. AFRICOM later insisted the target “was both an al-Shabaab leader and weapons supplier.”

According to a press release issued on November 19th by US Africa Command, “At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. Strikes near Qunyo Barrow disrupt al-Shabaab’s freedom of maneuver and ability to organize. The individual targeted had direct ties to the al-Qaeda terror organization”

AFRICOM added that it currently assessed that no civilians had been harmed in the attack.

According to Associated Press the drone strike took place outside Kunyo Barrow, and targeted a senior al Shabaab official: “A Somali intelligence official says a U.S. drone strike has killed a senior officer with the al-Shabab extremist group. The official says the unidentified officer had maintained links with foreign extremist groups with the aim of coordinating future attacks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. Residents said the officer’s vehicle was struck Tuesday outside the al-Shabab-held town of Kunya Barow in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region.”

However, as NBC News analyst Evan Kohlmann tweeted: “Shabaab al-Mujahideen insists that the individual killed in a US military airstrike yesterday in Somalia was actually a local civilian merchant named Ismail Issa Bhutan, who was hit by 2 missiles in short succession after his mobile phone began to ring.”

According to Somalia News 24/7, “Witnesses say that a man who was a businessman and had a shop in the town was killed in the attack.”

In April 2020, in its first quarterly civilian harm report, AFRICOM explicitly denied harming a civilian in the attack: “After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. On November 19, 2019 a kinetic strike was executed against one individual which U.S. intelligence confirmed was both an al-Shabaab leader and weapons supplier. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the one individual. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Name unknown Age unknown male

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • CBA TV video

Geolocation notes

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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • November 19, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on November 19, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. On November 19, 2019 a kinetic strike was executed against one individual which U.S. intelligence confirmed was both an al-Shabaab leader and weapons supplier. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the one individual. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

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, on Nov. 19.
“Armed over-watch and the progression of Somali forces are preventing individuals and larger groups of al-Shabaab fighters from doing future harm to innocent Somalis and becoming a potential threat to the United States,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. “Ongoing Somali efforts and persistent pressure on the network help create the necessary conditions to extend the reach of Somali security forces and governance.”
At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. Strikes near Qunyo Barrow disrupt al-Shabaab’s freedom of maneuver and ability to organize. The individual targeted had direct ties to the al-Qaeda terror organization.
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
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM101-C

Incident date

November 12, 2017

Location

Southeast of Darusalaam, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.9072, 44.7978 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 US strike on al Shabaab fighters in the Lower Shabelle region also killed three civilians, Amnesty International later reported.

Two US strikes took place in Somalia on November 12th, with one targeting al Shabaab and the other hitting Islamic State fighters, according to US Africa Command. The strikes killed “several fighters”, it said.

The first attack hit at around 0300 local time killing “several terrorists” according to AFRICOM, while the second action is included in a separate report for this date.

SomaliMemo published graphic photographs later that day which it said were of three farmers (though Amnesty later said the bodies had been moved and staged by al Shabaab.)

In a March 2019 investigation into civilian harm in Somalia by Amnesty International, it was reported that three local farmers, Ibrahim Siid Wehelow (20 years old), Hassan Meyow Abkey (40 years old) and Ahmed Jeylani Sheekhow (26 years old) were killed when a strike targeted them as they were sleeping under a tree.

The men reportedly finished work at 2am, were too tired to walk and were waiting underneath the tree for a ferry the next morning to take them back from their farm to their homes on the other side of the Shabelle river.

Amnesty notes: “As the three men camped out at the side of the road, without warning a single air strike was launched at them at around 3am. A detonation shook the area, killing the three men and sending farmers to cover. Residents of both Mubarak and Darusalaam told Amnesty International that they were woken by the explosion. “I saw the heavy splashing light and then the big noise came, and I fell down,” said Liban, a farmer who was working nearby.

“I was frightened and then I tried to gather what happened and I tried to call [Ibrahim, Ahmed and Hassan] and it said “unavailable”…Then, in the morning the people went to see what happened and to our surprise we found they had died. The noise of the plane was louder than before,” Liban continued,

“The weeks before it used to come and leave, only that night it was not leaving. It was coming and coming and coming… when the noise [of an airstrike] happened everything ceased…I was so frightened. I couldn’t keep watch on the farm at all. I went under the shelter of the tree and hid…These three young men were not expecting to be killed by a plane, and we did not expect the world to be silent.”

Witnesses described to Amnesty how al Shabaab came the next morning and rearranged the bodies, staging them for photos that they published online. The photos meant that Amnesty could geolocate the strike to a farm road 2 km southeast of Darusalaam.

Hassan Meyow Abkey was a local expert in fixing smartphones according to locals that Amnesty witnessed, leading some to believe that they were targeted because he was fixing an al Shabaab phone and the US were using signals intelligence (SIGINT).

From all of their available information, Amnesty assessed that all three of the men were civilians. In response to Amnesty International’s allegations, US Africa Command replied that the three men were instead members of al Shabaab:

“AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting al-Shabaab fighters. The Shahada News Agency, an al-Shabaab media outlet, alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event and supported the claim using staged photos. AFRCOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment and determined that the three men described in the allegation were not sleeping at the time of the strike and were members of al-Shabaab.”

The incident occured at approximately 3:00 am local time.

  • Ibrahim Siid Wehelow 20 years old male Farmer killed
  • Hassan Meyow Abkey 40 years old male Farmer killed
  • Ahmed Jeylani Sheekhow 26 years old male Farmer 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
    0–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (11) [ collapse]

  • Via Amnesty: Scrap from the GBU-69/B, including the distinctive mesh tail fins in the crater. © SOMALIMEMO
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged body of a reported civilian farmer killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged body of a reported civilian farmer killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • Munition fragments from a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • Munition fragment from a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged bodies of reported civilian farmers killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged bodies of reported civilian farmers killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • CGTN Africa Live report of November 13th 2017 on recent US strikes in Somalia
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the November 12th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the November 12th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the November 12th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Field investigation by Amnesty points to the exact location of the strike at these coordinates: 1.907188, 44.797862. From Amnesty International: “At first light, villagers from Darusalaam and Mubarak reached the bodies. Witnesses described to Amnesty International the horrific injuries they were confronted with, and said they covered the bodies in white shrouds, in preparation for burial. Soon after, Al-Shabaab fighters arrived, removed the shrouds, and rearranged the bodies, staging them for photographs, that they later posted on social media and on SomaliMemo, a pro-Al-Shabaab website. While in these photographs the bodies appear to have been moved and as such the images do not present an accurate depiction of the scene immediately after the blast, they do confirm several important factors. First, they reveal the location of the air strike. Using digital verification techniques, Amnesty International researchers were able to use indicators from the landscape to precisely geolocate the crater to 1.9072 North, 44.7978 East, a farm road 2 km southeast of Darusalaam. This location also aligns with witness testimony.

  • Geolocation of strike by Amnesty International, march 2019

  • Geolocation of strike by Amnesty International, march 2019

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
  • Mar 1, 2019
  • AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting al-Shabaab fighters. The Shahada News Agency, an al-Shabaab media outlet, alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event and supported the claim using staged photos. AFRCOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment and determined that the three men described in the allegation were not sleeping at the time of the strike and were members of al-Shabaab.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Via email:
"U.S. forces conducted two separate airstrikes against al-Shabaab and ISIS, in Somalia on Nov. 12, killing several terrorists. The first strike occurred at approximately 3 a.m. local Somalia time against al-Shabaab in the Lower Shabelle Region about 40 miles west of the capital Mogadishu.
The second separate strike occurred at approximately 9 a.m. local Somalia time against ISIS in Puntland."

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
    0–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM299-C

Incident date

March 27, 2020

Location

near Buulo Fuulay, Bay, Somalia

Geolocation

2.11064, 43.52329 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were killed in a US strike near Buulo Fuulay, according to a pro Al Shabaab outlet.

Somali Memo wrote: “More details about the bombings of US warplanes hit the Bay region in southern Somalia on Wednesday night.

Drones bombed a scooter with two civilians Saturday night, the killed were forced out of Buhodle district and headed towards Dodala village, about 30 km from Fula.

Residents said the victims were Abdi Fatah Abdirahman Adan and Adow Elmi Kiraro, relatives of the slain men who spoke to the media about the incident and denied false claims that they had been killed by militants.

The United States is dropping drone strikes on the Somali people while hiding itself in a war on so-called terrorists.”

AFRICOM, however, claimed: “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab terrorists in the vicinity of Buulo Fuulay, Somalia, Mar. 27.

The command’s initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed two (2) terrorists.

We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.”

Halgan Media said that Al Shabaab had announced to publish pictures of the victim. Airwars will add these in case they are published.

AFRICOM later deemed the claims of civilian harm as unsubstantiated in its quarterly civilian casuatly assessment report: “On March 27, 2020 an airstrike was executed on two individuals which U.S. intelligence confirmed were al-Shabaab members. The airstrike was executed after the two fighters departed a known al-Shabaab compound on a motorbike. The strike was conducted in a remote area where the effects were confirmed to be limited to the individuals. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

The incident occured in the evening.

Summary

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

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the vicinity of Buulo Fuulay village, for which the generic coordinates are: 2.11064, 43.52329. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Jul 28, 2020
  • March 28, 2020, (Unsubstantiated) USAFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming two (2) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Buulo Fulaay, Somalia, on March 27, 2020. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated. On March 27, 2020 an airstrike was executed on two individuals which U.S. intelligence confirmed were al-Shabaab members. The airstrike was executed after the two fighters departed a known al-Shabaab compound on a motorbike. The strike was conducted in a remote area where the effects were confirmed to be limited to the individuals. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.

Summary

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

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM205-C

Incident date

March 11, 2019

Location

دار السلام, Darusalaam, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The victims were named as:

Family members (4)

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 7
  • (1 woman1–6 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Darusalaam (دار السلام), near the town Awdheegle. The coordinates for Darusalaam (دار السلام) are: 1.9230721, 44.7868291. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

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

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 7
  • (1 woman1–6 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM319-C

Incident date

September 20, 2020

Location

Moyiloow, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.18433, 44.65022 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

Eight civilians were allegedly killed in a joint US/Somali military operation near Tortorrow.

Halgan Media said: “US trained Somali Paramilitary Forces (Danab) executed 8 civilians inside a Mosque during an overnight raid targeting the village of Moyiloow in the Lower Shabelle province of Somalia. All the victims where executed at close range. Two of them where brothers.”

The Horn of Africa Centre for Regional Studies reported a Danab special forces operation in the area with aerial support from the US. It said eight suspected Al Shabaab members had been killed.

In its fourth quarter civilian casualty assessment AFRICOM wrote: “On Sept. 21, 2020 USAFRICOM received one (1) report from an online media source claiming eight (8) civilians were killed as a result of a joint Somali/U.S. military operation in the vicinity of Tortorrow, Somalia on Sept. 21, 2020. USAFRICOM’s assessment is ongoing.”

Airwars has so far not been able to find a clear allegation of civilian harm against US forces.

In the following report AFRICOM said the allegation was unsubstantiated: “After review, the report was assessed as unsubstantiated. U.S. forces were not directly involved in this operation and no U.S. military strike took place at the time and place reported. Partner force reporting and sensitive intelligence confirmed that no civilians were killed in the operation. The source of the report is a known al-Shabaab propaganda outlet that falsely stated that the partner force destroyed a mosque during the operation. U.S. Africa Command performed a careful assessment of the area after the operation and confirmed that a mosque was not destroyed in the operation.”

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Moyiloow, alternatively spelled Moyanow, for which the generic coordinates are: 2.18433, 44.65022. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Mar 5, 2021
  • Nov 6, 2020
  • On Sept. 21, 2020 USAFRICOM received one (1) report from an online media source claiming eight (8) civilians were killed as a result of a joint Somali/U.S. military operation in the vicinity of Tortorrow, Somalia on Sept. 21, 2020. USAFRICOM’s assessment is ongoing.

  • (Unsubstantiated) On Sept. 21, 2020, U.S. Africa Command received one (1) report from an online media source stating eight (8) civilians were killed as a result of a joint Somali and U.S. military operation in the vicinity of Tortorrow, Somalia on Sept. 21, 2020. After review, the report was assessed as unsubstantiated. U.S. forces were not directly involved in this operation and no U.S. military strike took place at the time and place reported. Partner force reporting and sensitive intelligence confirmed that no civilians were killed in the operation. The source of the report is a known al-Shabaab propaganda outlet that falsely stated that the partner force destroyed a mosque during the operation. U.S. Africa Command performed a careful assessment of the area after the operation and confirmed that a mosque was not destroyed in the operation.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8

Sources (5) [ collapse]