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

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

USSOM127-C

Incident date

May 9–10, 2018

Location

Bulcida Macalinka (northeast), Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.090326, 44.990577 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Five civilians were reportedly killed in a US and/or Somali-waged ground operation – possibly also involving airpower – in the Lower Shabelle region, local and international media reported. The US denied allegations of harm.

The raid was reportedly carried out by Somalia commandos, with the US saying American troops supported the mission in an “advise and assist” capacity. Additionally, three local al Shabaab members were captured.

The raid took place in or near the village of Ma’alinka in the Lower Shabelle region. While a Somali intelligence official said the site targeted was a “key hideout and coordination centre” of al Shabaab, relatives and locals said it was a banana farm.

Reports soon surfaced of as many as five civilians being killed in the raid, who were allegedly shot dead. Ali Mohamed Moalin, an elder from the area, said “two military helicopters” were involved as well as “some foreign special forces”. “There are five dead bodies of innocent farmers who have been killed by the special forces last night,” said Moalin.

Associated Press noted: “People who described themselves as relatives of the people killed in Wednesday’s raid expressed bewilderment. “They were not armed nor were they al-Shabab members,” said Ibrahim Ahmed, who said he was a family member of one man killed. I don’t understand why a farm would make a target for a raid,” he added, pointing at one of the bloodied bodies that had been laid out on the ground outside a hospital in the capital, Mogadishu.”

Goobjoog reported that one person was critically injured and five civilian farmers killed. “The bodies of five people who were killed in a Somali and foreign forces operation in the outskirts of Afgooye, town some 40 kilometres south west of Mogadishu were transported to Mogadishu Thursday. The five bodies were first taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters before they were moved to Medina Hospital. Goobjoog News correspondent Ali Mumin reporting from the hospital said one person who was critically injured was taken to Digfer Hospital for specialised treatment.”

The Daily Beast published a detailed account of the attack, highlighting the complexity surrounding US military activity in Somalia. “Five locals were injured by the Somali commandos and at some point during a firefight with people whose identities no one could agree upon, five local people were killed,” journalist Christina Goldbaum wrote.

Soon after the incident, the Somali government denied the allegations of civilian casualties. US Africa Command said it would review information on the raid but announced in June 2018 that after a “thorough” review the allegations had been deemed “not credible”.

Moreover, three others, reportedly local al Shabaab members, were said to have been captured in the raid, as reported by AP News.

The US said the raid took place near Bulcida, which is on the outskirts of Afgoye. APF also placed the attack near Afgoye. The Daily Beast and Garowe Online said the raid occurred in Ma’alinka village near Bariire, which was also the site of a deadly raid in August 2017. Bariire is close to Afgoye.

In July 2019, US investigative reporter Nick Turse obtained a declassified AFRICOM report on recent civilian harm assessments, which added significant additional knowledge on the event. While accepting that five people were killed and one wounded by ‘partner forces’, the assessment “suggest[s] that the individuals killed and wounded in the raid were al-Shabaab fighters.”

The incident occured at 1:00 am local time.

  • Abdirahman Abdi Adult male Nightwatchman. One bullet grazed the left side of his head, and four others hit his right shoulder and forearm injured
  • Abdi Dahir Adult male Shot in thigh injured
  • Teenage boy Age unknown male injured
  • Teenage girl Age unknown female injured
  • Mohamed Hashi Nur Adult male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Up to five civilians died in the event. Original photo caption: "Three local al Shabaab members were seized in a joint US-Somali raid on March 9th, 2018 in Lower Shabelle (via AP News)"
  • Abdirahman Abdi was wounded in the alleged US strike in Lower Shabelle, May 9th, 2018 . Here, he is photographed after being released from Digfeer Hospital in Mogadishu (via The Daily Beast)
  • al-Shabaab members in a mosque in Mombassa, Kenya in February 2014, photographed by Laban Walloga (via The Daily Beast)
  • Bodies of five civilians, according to the pro-Shabaab site Shabkadda Amiirnur

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the raid targeted a farm and houses near a borehole, in the northeast of a village called Ma’alinka. Another source mentions that the raid took place in the vicinity of Bulcida, near the town Afgoye. Northwest of Afgoye is a village called Bulcida Macalinka, for which the coordinates are: 2.0887147, 44.9833057. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we weren’t able to verify the precise location of the strike, however, the coordinates for the northeast area of the village are: 2.090326, 44.990577.

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
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    IVO Bulcida, Somalia
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Jul 1, 2019
  • Jun 8, 2018
  • "In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab's terrorist network near Bulcida, Somalia, May 9, 2018, as previously released. Following reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, U.S. Africa Command performed a thorough review and determined the allegations of civilian casualties to be not credible. As with any allegation of civilian casualties, U.S. Africa Command reviewed all available relevant information concerning the incident."

  • A detailed assessment was revealed in a FOIA response to journalist Nick Turse in July 2019: CIVCAS allegation brought to USAFRICOM's attention on 12 May 2018. The location and timing of the allegation corresponds to the geographic location of a known operation, but the number and characterization of those killed varied. The allegation did not contain information or images that correlated to this incident. NOT/ NOT CREDIBLE: The assessment determined that during the course of the operation, the partner force engaged several individuals with small arms fire after these individuals maneuvred against their position from a point of concealment. The assessment concluded that five individuals were killed and one was wounded as a result of partner force fire. While on-site sensitive exploitation was not posssible, post-operation classified reporting and detainee questioning suggest that individuals killed and wounded in the raid were al-Shabaab fighters.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"U.S. forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab's terrorist network near Bulcida, Somalia, May 9."

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
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (9) [ 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
    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

USSOM115-C

Incident date

January 18, 2018

Location

Jameeco Jilyaale near Beled ul Amin, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.84889, 45.13846 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US confirmed it had accompanied Somali troops in a mission that rescued 30 to 32 boys from an al Shabaab indoctrination centre in the Lower Shabelle region. However, during the rescue attempt, fire reportedly from Somali forces reportedly killed four or five children, and a teacher. A later US government FOIA response indicated that civilians had died in the raid.

Those killed had been firing at the Somali soldiers leading them to respond, according to US Africa Command in its earlier responses, with an AFRICOM statement noting that “The Somali forces returned fire in self-defense. In the ensuing firefight, five enemy combatants were killed and six were wounded. Some of those killed in the engagement appear to have been under the age of 18. US personnel were in an advisory capacity, and did not fire their weapons.”

A team of US Special Operations Forces had advised local Somali troops during the raid on the camp in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia, a US military official told CNN. A Somali intelligence official told AP it took place in the region’s Jame’o [or Jameeco Jilyaale] village. A local commander was among the dead, he said. All Africa identified him as Al Shabaab’s local emir of Jame’a Jilay near Beled ul Amin, Lower Shabelle.”

However, a declassified AFRICOM civilian harm assessment obtained by US journalist Nick Turse in 2019, showing that civilian casualties had indeed resulted from the joint operation – with assessors declaring the event to be Credible, with “Classified evidence leading to an assessment that the civilian casualties were the result of al-Shabaab employing human shields.”

This appeared closer to al Shabaab’s own report of events as cited by Reuters: “Al Shabaab said government forces, accompanied by drones, had attacked the school in Middle Shabelle region. It said four children and a teacher were killed.”

On this same date, US forces also launched a strike in the Lower Shabelle region at Beer Xani which killed four al Shabaab members, according to US Africa Command. There were no reports of civilian harm.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • (4–5 children1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the raid targeted a camp in or near Jame’o (or Jameeco Jilyaale) village. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of the camp. The coordinates for Jameeco Jilyaale are: 2.84889, 45.13846 (UN mapping also points to a second village called Jameeco Jilyaale: 2.59068, 45.31577, however, this does not show up in other mapping sources and on satellite imagery there is no settlement at these coordinates).

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.
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    Jameeco Jilyaale
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Aug 1, 2019
  • Credible: Classified evidence leading to an assessment that the civilian casualties were the result of al-Shabaab employing human shields.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

U.S. Support to Somali National Security Forces results in recovery of children

On Jan. 18, U.S. forces accompanied Somali National Security Forces on a mission in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia resulting in the recovery of 30 male children from an al-Shabaab indoctrination center. We support the Federal Government of Somalia and UNICEF efforts to reunite these children with their families.

During the mission, the Somali National Security Forces received hostile fire. The Somali forces returned fire in self-defense. In the ensuing firefight, five enemy combatants were killed and six were wounded. Some of those killed in the engagement appear to have been under the age of 18. U.S. personnel were in an advisory capacity, and did not fire their weapons.

Somalia Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • (4–5 children1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM108-C

Incident date

December 6, 2017

Location

130 km southwest of Mogadishu, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.0702, 44.4207 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Between five and seven civilians, including two children, were killed when a vehicle carrying suspected al Shabaab fighters exploded in their village, after being hit by what is thought to have been a US airstrike – though US Africa Command deny any strikes in the area on this date.

The explosion reportedly injured a further two civilians, including an 18 month old girl. Reuters reported an eyewitness as saying that all seven casualties were in fact  killed.

In a Guardian article published in January 2018, there were reports of civilian casualties from a strike on December 6th. It reported that a five-year-old girl, a 17-year-old girl and three men were killed.

Mohamed Abdullahi, a resident of Illimey village, which is about 80 miles south-west of Mogadishu, told the Guardian: “Farmers had gathered at a tea shop … when the drone begun to fly over … Some of the victims were passing on the road while some were inside drinking their afternoon tea. Five died on the spot. They are not killing al-Shabaab. They are killing civilians,” he said.

Two additional casualties were confirmed by hospital officials according to the newspaper. They said an 18-month-old girl and a 23-year-old man had been brought with shrapnel injuries.

According to Amnesty International’s research, whilst al Shabaab controlled the area of Illimey, they did not have much of a presence in the area and didn’t tend to visit very often. The NGO spoke to five eyewitnesses about an unfamiliar truck, thought potentially to be driven by al Shabaab fighters, being present in the town on that day and which was later blown up.

One witness told Amnesty the men wanted water in order to take ablution (wash) before praying. Another said that a suspected Al-Shabaab fighter got out of the truck and put a gun to the head of Osman Hussein Osman, a 45-year-old camel herder from the village. “They stopped him with a gun and made him put his water in the cooler of the car.” Jibril, a farmer who was in the village told Amnesty International. Then, moments later, a projectile hit the truck, witnesses explained. “There was dust everywhere and smoke and bodies of humans and animals,” said Jibril.

The explosion destroyed the vehicle and killed all of the suspected al Shabaab fightters inside of it, Amnesty reported.

Despite having looked at satellite imagery and conduction on the ground investigations, Amnesty said it could not be 100% sure that a US air strike had caused the explosion – though said that it is the most plausible answer.

US Africa Command deny conducting a strike on this day. Their response to Amnesty’s allegation of civilian harm read as follows: “AFRICOM did not conduct a strike at this location. Additional information provided by […] Amnesty International indicated that the strike in question involved secondary explosions. On 11 December 2017, one week after the alleged incident, AFRICOM did strike a VBIED approximately 35 miles from this location but no secondary explosions were observed.”

Despite AFRICOM’s statement, local officials insisted a strike had in fact  taken place – indicating either a possible Kenyan or CIA action. A local government official said that a strike had hit a car being used by al Shabaab fighters to “transport supplies to a squad preparing bomb” in Ilimey village, about 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.”

“The strike hit the car … but we do not know details of casualties,” Ali Nur, deputy governor of Somalia’s lower Shabelle region, told Reuters – which also said it was not clear who had carried out the strike. The Kenyan military had conducted multiple strikes in Somalia, but these had tended to be closer to the Somali-Kenyan border.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Osman Hussein Osman 45 years old male Camel herder, father killed
  • Fadumo Osman Hussein 7 years old female Daughter killed
  • Fartun Osman Hussein 1 years old female Daughter. Struck in head by shrapnel injured

Family members (2)

  • Maalim Abdow Fillow Mudey 45 years old male Teacher, father killed
  • Amina Abdow Fillow Mudey 17 years old female Daughter killed
  • Abdow Mohamed Aliyow Boor 30 years old male camel herder killed
  • Mohamed Hussein Abdi 36 years old male Struck by debris, causing him to lose all sight in one eye injured

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 7
  • (2 children3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the December 6th event in his graphic novellla for Amnesty International

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Amnesty research points to the exact location of this incident at Illimey village: 2.0702, 44.4207.

  • Via Amnesty: Imagery from 3 December 2017 shows a small junction in Lower Shabelle approximately 100 km west of Mogadishu. The road passes through a small village with approximately 10 structures.

  • Via Amnesty: Imagery from 9 December 2017 shows debris from the destruction of most and possibly all of the structures. A diversion in the road along with apparent debris, suggests the explosion site is along the old road. The furthest structure visibly destroyed was situated 60 metres from the probable explosion site.

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
  • Mar 11, 2019
  • AFRICOM did not conduct a strike at this location. Additional information provided by […] Amnesty International indicated that the strike in question involved secondary explosions. On 11 December 2017, one week after the alleged incident, AFRICOM did strike a VBIED approximately 35 miles from this location but no secondary explosions were observed.

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, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 7
  • (2 children3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM118-C

Incident date

February 21, 2018

Location

Bangeeni, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.04072, 42.729703 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Up to five people, including two reported civilians, were killed in a US military airstrike that hit in the vicinity of Jamaame, in Somalia’s Lower Juba region, international media reported.

According to a US Africa Command press release, a US strike on al Shabaab killed four members of the group.

VOA reporter Khadar Hared tweeted that two civilians were believed to be among the dead, killed in an airstrike at “Bangeeni village located about 8 km west of Jamame.”

A Somali government official also told VOA Somali that the strike killed five militants: “I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by US drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground.”

However the VOA report also said that “Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.”

US Africa Command later assessed that no civilians killed in the strike, noting: “NOT/ NOT CREDIBLE: Classified evidence captured at the scene proves story was incorrect,” according to a declassified assessment obtained by US investigative journalist Nick Mercer in 2019.

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  confirmed it had struck that day what it says were “al-Shabaab Fighters”, in the vicinity of Kobon, Somalia.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • 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
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Jamaame (0.06978, 42.748066). A subsequent FOIA response pointed to the nearby village of Kobon, for which the coordinates are: 0.03586, 42.704521. However, VOA reporter Khadar Hared tweeted that the strike took place in “Bangeeni village, located about 8 km west of Jamame.” The coordinates for Bangeeni are: 0.04072, 42.729703. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The town Bangeeni between the Kobon and Jamaame

    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
  • Stated location
    Jamaame
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Aug 1, 2019
  • NOT/ NOT CREDIBLE: Classified evidence captured at the scene proves story was incorrect,

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 on Feb. 21, in the vicinity of Jamaame, Somalia, killing four (4) terrorists.

We assess no civilians were killed in this strike.

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.

Together with other international partners, the United States is committed to providing Somalia, AMISOM and SNSF with support in the fight against violent extremist organizations.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • 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
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (6) [ 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]