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
Civilian Harm Status
Belligerent Assessment
Declassified Documents
Strike Status
Strike Type
Strike Target

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

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
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known 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

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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

US 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

US 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
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM123-C

Incident date

April 1, 2018

Location

Ceel Buur, Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

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

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)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known 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

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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

US 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

US 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)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (25) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM274-C

Incident date

February 2, 2020

Location

Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

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

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.'”

The New York Times reported that “Fatima, then 14, indicated during an interview where a missile fragment pierced her body. She wakes up screaming from nightmares. “I don’t want to say what I see,” she said.”

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
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (22) [ 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.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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

US 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

US 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
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (22) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM251-C

Incident date

October 25, 2019

Location

Near Ameyra and Timirshe, Puntland, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Airwars assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

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

  • The village Timirshe and Xamure near the town Iskushuban

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

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

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

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

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

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

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM, and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM341

Incident date

August 1, 2021

Location

Between Bacaadweyn and Camara, vicinity of Wisil, Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

5.211400, 47.902792 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In its latest actions in support of Somali ground forces, AFRICOM confirmed that it had conducted airstrikes on al Shabaab positions “in the vicinity of Qeycad” on August 1st.

Statements published by both the Somali Ministry of Information and Galmudug State referred to two separate strikes, which Airwars is therefore treating as separate events. According to the MOI: “At 1022 a.m. & 1101 a.m. air strikes occurred b/w Bacadweyne & Camara towns near Wisil town in #Galmudug State in support of a #Danab operation resulting in zero civilian casualties”. It went on to add that “The airstrikes destroyed a large al-Shabab firing position engaging Danab and SNA forces as they approached”.

Galmudug State also reported a strike elsewhere: “A strike targeted a military base housing al Shabaab militants between Qay’ad and Hareri-dere.” Airwars has treated this as a separate event (USSOM340).

The US actions – the third and fourth in just eleven days – were once again in support of Somali ground forces fighting al Shabaab for control of towns and villages around Qeycad. According to AFRICOM, “There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces.”

AFRICOM also asserted that the command’s “initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.” There were also no known local reports of civilian harm.

Pro al Shabaab source Somali Memo tweeted on the Sunday morning that “Forces of the Islamic State of Mudug strongly defend Qeycad after air and ground attacks,” with a more detailed online report asserting that “Reports from the outskirts of Ba’adweyne area say that heavy fighting broke out in the early hours of today near Qeycad village. The fighting came after US-trained militias attacked the defenses of the Islamic State of Mudug between Ba’adweyne and Qeycad. Sources say that after an hour of fighting, the Ashamud militia were defeated and later returned to their base in Ba’adweyne. The report added that US drones had taken part in the airstrikes, but no casualties were reported.”

Somaliweyn also claimed that al Shabaab had attempted to retaliate against the US strikes: “Two rockets were reportedly fired at a fighter jet on the outskirts of Qaycad in Mudug region, where Somali government and Galmudug forces are also conducting operations.”

An image published by Radio Muqdisho on the day appeared to show an airstrike in progress.

In a followup statement, Sonna state media claimed the following day that the Somali National Army backed by Galmudug State forces had killed 200 Al-Shabaab militants in their ongoing military operations in Mudug region, destroying what were described as 16 “terrorist bases” and capturing four towns and eight villages.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Somali forces in the vicinity of Qeycud August 1st 2021 (via Radio Moqdisho)
  • An apparent US airstrike in the vicinity of Qeycud, August 1st 2021 (via Radio Moqdisho)
  • Official statement from the Somali Ministry of Information on the August 1st US strikes on al Shabaab

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the area between the villages of Bacaadweyne and Camara, both in the vicinity of Wisil. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for a middle point between these two locations are: 5.211400, 47.902792.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Qeycad, Somalia August 1.

There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation. U.S. forces were conducting a remote advise and assist mission in support of designated Somali partner forces. U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in support of combatant commander-designated partner forces under the 2001 Authorization of Use for Military Force.

The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. These efforts contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabaab regularly conducts against the civilian population.

The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. remain committed to fighting al-Shabaab to prevent the deaths of innocent men, women and children.

Violent extremist organizations like al-Shabaab present long-term threats to U.S. and regional interests.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM095-C

Incident date

October 16, 2017

Location

Farah Waeys, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Airwars assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The incident occured at 16:30:00 local time.

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5–8
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

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

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

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

  • Geolocational imagery released by Amnesty, March 2019

    Imagery:
    Amnesty International

US Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

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

We are currently assessing the results of the strike.

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5–8
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM282-C

Incident date

February 24, 2020

Location

the Masalanja farm near the village of Kumbareere, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.577719, 42.717772 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

The US declared on the same date an airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib – which it said had killed “one terrorist.” However local sources, some pro al Shabaab, said the victim was in fact Mohamud Haji Sirad, a director of the Hormud telecoms company for Middle Juba.

According to the Somali Guardian Mr Sirad was in his early 50s [or early 60s according to others]. It said Hormud had confirmed his death and had sent condolences to his family. A statement issued by the telecoms company insisted Mr Salad was a civilian with no connection with any militant organisation.

Morad News – a generally pro Shabaab site – reported via Twitter that “#US drone strike kills director of #Somalia’s @Hormuud telecommunications company in Middle Juba region, Mohamud Haji Sirad – Residents. Mohamud, who’s in his 50s, was inside his farm near #Jilib town during the drone strike according to witnesses.”

According to Morad, the following day “Hundreds of #Jilib residents gather for funeral and burial of Mahamud Haji Salad, a prominent businessman & director of #Somalia’s  @Hormuud telecom company in Middle Juba region, who was killed in a #US drone strike inside his farm near #Jilib town yesterday.”

Both Reuters and Voice of America cited Hormud officials as insisting that Mr Sirad was innocent: “Somalia’s biggest telecommunications company says one of its employees was killed a U.S. airstrike Monday near the al-Shabab-held town of Jilib, Middle Jubba region,” noted VOA.

“Spokesperson for the company Adnan Haji Ali said the head of the company’s office in Jilib was killed on his farm. The company identified the man as Mohamud Haji Salad, the Manager of Hormud telecommunications branch in Jilib town. ‘We confirm that this man was our employee,’ says Ali. ‘He had nothing to do with any group or organization.'”

Reuters noted: “‘Mr. Salad was highly respected among his colleagues and a valued member of the Hormuud team. He had a strong work ethic and he was known to be a good father to his children,’ Hormuud Chief Operating Officer Abdirashid Ali said in a statement.” The news agency also noted that Hormud employees and infrastructure had come under recent attack from US, Kenyan and al Shabaab forces.

Garowe Online reported: “Hormuud Telecom said the slain manager, Mahamud Haji Sirad was a “diligent” worker who coordinated the company’s activity within Middle Juba, the company said. ‘We are appalled that such airstrikes are targeting civilians,’ the company said in a statement. ‘He was our director within Middle Juba and has no links with Al-Shabaab.’ Family sources said the slain director was leaving his farm when the drone dropped, killing him instantly and on the site. Meanwhile, Somali State media reported on Monday that the man killed in the American military operation was a ‘terrorist’.”

In April 2020, Amnesty International published a case study of the airstrike, writing that 53-year-old “Mohamud Salad Mohamud was a prominent businessman, banana farmer, and the Hormuud Telecommunication Company’s Jilib office manager. He left behind eight children and a wife.”

Mohamud’s younger brother, Abdiaziz Salad Mohamud, told Amnesty that he met his brother at the Hormuud office in Jilib on the day of his death. Abdiaziz stated that his brother told him that “he was in good health after his visit to Mogadishu and that he was planning to go and see his Masalanja farm later that day.”

It was around 3:45 PM when Abdiaziz heard the sound of a blast coming from the farm’s direction. Two planes had allegedly been hovering over the town that day. Abdiaziz: “My other brother Faysal [Salad Mohamud] and I called the only worker on the farm and asked him what happened, he said they were under attack, he was hiding and could not see Mohamud.”

Abdiaziz and Faysal reportedly took a motorbike and rushed to the farm. “When we arrived at the farm, we saw blood all over the place, especially near the irrigation canal and near the banana trees. His body was cut into pieces. I recognized his face and his left leg. I collected the pieces of his body parts and flesh and put them into a sack. It was just shocking. Two planes were still hovering over us as I collected the remains of his body.”

Amnesty International’s weapons experts identified fragments of an American AGM-114 Hellfire missile in an analysis of a video of the site – suggesting a strike by Reaper drone.

Two senior officials at Hormuud, the telecoms company Mohamud worked for since 2006, told Amnesty that the victim was not a member of Al Shabaab and was in fact arrested three times by the insurgent group for not complying with their orders. One of the officials stated: “I was travelling back from Lower Shabelle that afternoon when I heard the news of his death, I thought he was killed by Al-Shabaab. I never imagined he would be killed by the US or by the Somalia government.”

Abdiaziz Haji Salad told Al Jazeera about his brother: “[Mohamud] was a very generous man. Always ready to help those who had less than him. More than 40 people depended on him.”

Salad said it is unclear to him why the US forces did not arrest his brother, as they have a base in Mogadishu: “Why did they not arrest him when he was in Mogadishu if what they are saying is true? He was in Mogadishu for 30 days working. […] He is well known and often travelled to government-controlled areas for work. No one ever said anything to him. He is an innocent man. I don’t even think they know who they killed.”

In its second quarterly civilian casualty assessment, AFRICOM assured no civilian were harmed: “On February 24, 2020 an airstrike was executed against an individual which U.S. intelligence, compiled over the course of several years, confirmed was an al-Shabaab commander. The strike was conducted in a remote area where effects were confirmed to be limited to the individual. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

AFRICOM included more details in their 4th Quarter, 2021 Civilian Casualty Assessment Quarterly Report, stating that “U.S. Africa Command stands by the targeted airstrike that killed al-Shabaab commander, Mohamud Salad who led coordinated attacks against partner forces in the region. After positively identifying Mohamud Salad, U.S. ISR assets maintained continuous surveillance until completion of the strike. Battle damage assessment of the strike confirmed the Mohamud Salad was unaccompanied when hit by a U.S. airstrike. A series of reporting compiled over the course of several years clearly detail a Mohamud Salad’s direct role in al-Shabaab operations in the region.

The incident occured at approximately 3:45 pm local time.

  • Mohamud Haji Sirad 53 years old male banana farmer and Jilib office manager for Hormuud Telecom killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (0–1 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–1

Sources (28) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (13) [ collapse]

  • The funeral of Mahamud Haji Salad, reportedly killed by a US airstrike on Jilib, February 24th 2020 (via Morad News)
  • The funeral of Mahamud Haji Salad, reportedly killed by a US airstrike on Jilib, February 24th 2020 (via Morad News)
  • The funeral of Mahamud Haji Salad, reportedly killed by a US airstrike on Jilib, February 24th 2020 (via Morad News)
  • The funeral of Mahamud Haji Salad, reportedly killed by a US airstrike on Jilib, February 24th 2020 (via Morad News)
  • Mohamud Salad Mohamud's Hormuud Telecom, the company he worked for, identification card (via Amnesty International).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Masalanja farm being struck in the vicinity of Kumbareere village, for which due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Kumbareere are: 0.577719, 42.717772.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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

US Forces
  • Mar 11, 2022
  • Jul 28, 2020
  • February 25, 2020 (Unsubstantiated) USAFRICOM received five allegations from online media sources and social media accounts claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on February 24, 2020. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. On February 24, 2020 an airstrike was executed against an individual which U.S. intelligence, compiled over the course of several years, confirmed was an al-Shabaab commander. The strike was conducted in a remote area where effects were confirmed to be limited to the individual. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.

  • U.S. Africa Command stands by the targeted airstrike that killed al-Shabaab commander, Mohamud Salad who led coordinated attacks against partner forces in the region. After positively identifying Mohamud Salad, U.S. ISR assets maintained continuous surveillance until completion of the strike. Battle damage assessment of the strike confirmed the Mohamud Salad was unaccompanied when hit by a U.S. airstrike. A series of reporting compiled over the course of several years clearly detail a Mohamud Salad's direct role in al-Shabaab operations in the region.

Original strike reports

US 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. 24.

“Our persistent actions against al-Shabaab ensures constant and continued pressure on this malign network,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, U.S. Africa Command deputy director of operations. “Our collective efforts help enhance security in the region and put al-Shabaab on notice, making both Somalia and the U.S. safer in the process.”

Al-Shabaab leadership has expressed its primary desire is to conduct attacks not just in East Africa, but against Americans and U.S. interests across the globe. Currently, our command assesses the al-Qaeda-aligned group lacks the capability to strike the U.S. homeland due to the persistent pressure placed on the group led by our African partners.

Initial assessment concluded the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist.

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

As part of an international effort, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. interagency partners help support Somali-led efforts to counter and contain dangerous terrorist organizations from exporting violence more broadly.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (0–1 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–1

Sources (28) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM351

Incident date

September 18, 2022

Location

near Bulabarde, Hiran, Somalia

Airwars assessment

AFRICOM declared conducting an airstrike on September 18th 2022 against Al-Shabaab terrorists who who were reportedly attacking the Somalia National Army forces near Buulobarde, Somalia. The US confirmed responsibility for killing 27 militants in this strike, according to the US, with the Somalia National Army saying that over 100 militants were killed in the whole operation which lasted over 72 hours. There were other reports in local and national media that 75 militants were killed in one of the operations within this time period, in the same location.  It is unclear to the extent of the US involvement beyond the strike that they have declared.

There were no reports of civilian casualties from these strikes.

The Federal Republic of Somalia released a press release on September 19th 2022 which stated “Somali National Army has conducted offensive operations in Yasoman and Aborey in Hiran Region in the last 72 hours. SNA has killed in this operation more than 100 members of Al-Shabab who wre terrorising the local people. Air support from United States of America has assisted this operation led by SNA. The Government of Somalia appreciates the US Government for its continual support in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”

The US released a statement a few days later, on September 22nd, confirming that they conducted an airstrike in the Hiran region “at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia… against al-Shabaab terrorists who were attacking Somali National Army forces near Buulobarde.” The US military reported that the airstrike was during a battle between Al-Shabaab fighters and Somali government forces.

One local source on Twitter, @HassanIstilla reported that “four people, including traditional elders, were killed when their vehicle hit a landmine on Saturday (17th) near Buq-aqable district in Hiran region. Al-Shabab denied responsibility and claimed that a US airstrike killed them. AFRICOM, or SNA did not announce an airstrike in the region.” However, the US and SNA operation was announced by the SNA on 19th, and the US confirmed their involvement on the 22nd.

AFRICOM reported that it was the largest combined military operation in the region in five years.

The @SomaliGuardian reported on Twitter that “Al-Shabaab says that it has killed 18 soldiers, wounded 20 others in fighting with govt troops, under cover of US air support, near the twon of Boco in Hiran region. It adds that Gorgor commander in the region is among casualties. No comment from SNA.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    27–100

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • US AFRICOM released press release declaring airstrike in the Hiran region, confirmed killing 27 militants on September 18th 2022 (Image via Twitter)
  • In one of the operations, Somali military said that it killed 75 militants in an operation on 18th September near Burlobade town (Image via @ShabelleMedia / Twitter)
  • In one of the operations, Somali military said that it killed 75 militants in an operation on 18th September near Burlobade town (Image via @ShabelleMedia / Twitter)
  • In one of the operations, Somali military said that it killed 75 militants in an operation on 18th September near Burlobade town (Image via @ShabelleMedia / Twitter)
  • In one of the operations, Somali military said that it killed 75 militants in an operation on 18th September near Burlobade town (Image via @ShabelleMedia / Twitter)
  • Press release from the Federal Republic of Somalia delcaring the operation and confirming the support of the US Forces (Image via @MOISOMALIA / Twitter)

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    27–100

Sources (17) [ collapse]