US Forces in Somalia

Library image of an armed Reaper drone, December 2019 (US Air Force/ Senior Sergeant Haley Stevens)

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
Somalia
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type
Air

Incident Code

USSOM017-C

Incident date

October 22, 2011

Location

Afmadow, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.514539, 42.074264 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

In this single-source claim, Somalia Report reported that at least 11 civilians died and more than 20 others were wounded after a possible US drone attacked Afmadow town in Lower Juba region.

An eye witness, Mohamud Abdirahman, told Somalia Report: “I have seen 11 bodies and we believe that it was a US airstrike.”

Locals said they had sighted what they believed to be US drones loitering above the area in the previous few days. Al Shabaab had reportedloy been the target of the attack.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11
  • Civilians reported injured
    20
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Archived claim via Wayback

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the alleged strike took place in Afmadoow, for which the coordinates are: 0.514539, 42.074264. 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
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11
  • Civilians reported injured
    20
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM013-C

Incident date

September 15, 2011

Location

Kismayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.355651, 42.545703 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

A single source reported that nine civilians died in alleged US drone strikes on Kismayo.

According to the source Antiwar.com, “Eyewitnesses in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo have reported a number of missile strikes, apparently fired by US drones in and around the city. Terrified residents say that several loud explosions were heard in the area.

“The militant faction al-Shabaab, which is in control of the area, says the drones hit on the outskirts of the town and killed at least nine civilians, including women and children. 30 others were reported wounded in the strikes.”

AFP reported that residents of Kismayo heard “the sound of aircraft and heavy explosions… We heard planes flying over Kismayo and minutes later there were at least three explosions,” resident Mohamed Ali told AFP by phone. “The aircraft fired heavy missiles into a jungle area where the Shebab established training camps, but we don’t know more,” Abdikarim Samow, another resident, told AFP.

Armed drones were operating from Mahe in the Seychelles (along with those used purely for surveillance), the Washington Post reported: “In the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean…a small fleet of ‘hunter-killer’ drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.”

Seychelles foreign minister Jean-Paul Adam denied the drones were armed. However, a 2009 diplomatic cable stated the US “would seek discrete [sic], specific discussions … to gain approval’ to arm the Reapers in the Seychelles ‘should the desire to do so ever arise”.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    9
  • (2 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–30

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a jungle or the outskirts of Kismayo. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The generic coordinates for the city Kismayo are: -0.355651, 42.545703.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    9
  • (2 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–30

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM021-C

Incident date

January 21, 2012

Location

Kismayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.355651, 42.545703 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

In this single-source claim, six people were allegedly killed as an airstrike carried out by US or Kenyan forces, struck near the al Shabaab stronghold of Kismayo, Sheikh Mohamud Abdi, a senior al-Shabaab commander, claimed to Reuters.

It is not known whether the strike was by US or Kenyan forces. Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October amid concerns that Somalia’s 21-year-old civil war was spilling over the countries’ border.

The combatant status of the claimed six victims is unknown. The original source for this allegation is also not presently recoverable.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the city of Kismayo, for which the coordinates are: -0.355651, 42.545703. 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
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM029-C

Incident date

November 1–30, 2013

Location

جيليب, Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Five children from a single family were killed in the town of Jilib, in Somalia’s Middle Juba region, when their house was razed by aerial bombardment from an unknown belligerent (possibly Kenya), according to residents interviewed by the group Journalists for Justice.

According to the report, “A third set of strikes took place a few weeks later in November 2013, according to the residents. Around 1pm jets razed five (5) homes. In one house five (5) children from the same family were killed, two interviewees said. At another open farming area on the edge of Jilib town, one herder was injured.”

As of now, no further details are available, and the exact date of the event in November is unclear. Based on its known presence in the general area, the presumed target of the attack was al Shabaab.

The incident occured at approximately 1:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted five homes as well as a farming area on the edge of the town Jilib. The coordinates for the town of Jilib are: 0.494527, 42.777868. 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
    Not yet assessed

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM031-C

Incident date

June 1–30, 2014

Location

Farigow, 3 km west of Jilib, Middle Jubba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.496059, 42.749613 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Between one and five civilians, including women and children, were killed as the Farigow leper colony near Jilib, Middle Jubba was struck by unknown warplanes, international media reported.

A woman living near the settlement told the Kenyan group Journalists for Justice that the colony was struck by jets by “mid 2014”, killing one person and injuring another three. “Farigow is a settlement of leprosy victims near Jilib. A woman living near there said it was attacked by jets in mid-2014. Three adults were injured and one killed, she reported to JFJ.”

Journalists for Justice said the attack was the same one described by the UN in its Somalia Monitoring Group report for 2014, which stated: “On 20 May 2014, for example, a village at Faragurow, 3 kilometers west of Jilib town in Middle Jubba, was attacked by fighter jets. Some reports claimed that among the dead were ‘2 women, 2 children and an old man.'”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 5
  • (1–2 children1–2 women0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • 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, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a settlement of leprosy victims called Farigow or Faragurow, 3 kilometers west of the town Jilib. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of Farigow. The coordinates for the area 3 kilometers west of the town Jilib are: 0.496059, 42.749613.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 5
  • (1–2 children1–2 women0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • 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, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM015-C

Incident date

October 6, 2011

Location

Dolbiyow, 35 kilometers east of Dhobley, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.411441, 41.327456 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

Four Somali farmers were reported to have been killed in a possible drone strike in Dolbiyow Village, 35km east of Dhobley according to Somalia Report, while one was reportedly injured.

The farmers and their camels were killed moments after al-Shabaab fighters fled the area in vehicles, witnesses said. However, a TFG official told Somalia Report that Al-Shabaab had instead mortared the village.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Archived Somalia Report claim via Wayback

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the town Dolbiyow, 35 kilometers east of Dhobley (0.411429, 41.008691). Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of Dolbiyow. The coordinates for the area 35 kilometers east of Dhobley are: 0.411441, 41.327456.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM035-C

Incident date

January 31, 2015

Location

Diinsoor, Bay, Somalia

Geolocation

2.40735, 42.976551 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

At least four civilian casualties were reported injured or killed in a confirmed US attack on Dinsooor, though it was not clear if they were injured or killed. JSOC had targeted and killed Yusef Dheeqm, al Shabaab’s head of external operations in the drone strike.

Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed in two separate Pentagon press conferences that the US had carried out the attack and had killed a senior al Shabaab figure. The first, on February 3rd, confirmed the attack was a US operation. Kirby then declared that the US had killed its target in a second press conference on February 10th. This was the third consecutive US drone strike in Somalia to kill a senior al Shabaab figure to follow a split confirmation format – with a first briefing confirming a strike, and a second confirming the death of an al Shabaab target.

Kirby said US Special Forces had killed Yusef Dheeq and one associate. When confirming the attack, Kirby said Dheeq was targeted “with Hellfire missiles fired from UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]”. Kirby described Dheeq as al Shabaab’s “intelligence and security chief, and director of external planning”. However he said that if Dheeq “no longer draws breath,” the US military considered the strike to be a success. The strike “goes to show how long our reach can be when it comes to counter terrorism,” he added.

Before Kirby’s statement, an unnamed official told the Washington Post that Dheeq was killed while riding in a vehicle with other alleged al Shabaab members. It was not clear how many others were killed, the official added. Ahmed Adan, a Bay region official, told Anadolu Agency: “Several al Shabaab militants and a top leader have been killed in the airstrike.” The strike killed five according to an Africaine de Presse report.

Local resident Ali Yare told AFP there had been four civilian casualties in the strike. The civilians were injured he said: however it was not clear if they had died of their injuries: “We heard a very loud explosion and a few minutes later I saw cars rushing to the scene, some of them returned with casualties. Four civilians were among the casualties… We don’t know who was the target because the area was sealed off.”

See also a US confirmed strike declared for February 2nd 2014 at Dinsoor, which may in fact be this event.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • 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
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Pentagon press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, confirming to reporters on February 3rd 2014 a US drone strike three days earlier, in Somalia (Image via DoD)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy heading to an al Shabaab training camp near the town Diinsoor. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for the town of Diinsoor are: 2.40735, 42.976551.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Stars and Stripes, February 10th, 2015:

"WASHINGTON — Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. military killed a senior leader of the al-Shabab militant group last month.
Last week, Kirby told reporters that a Jan. 31 American drone strike targeted Yusuf Dheeq, the head of external operations for the al-Qaida affiliated organization, which is based in Somalia. As of last week, officials were still trying to determine whether the strike was successful."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • 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
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM025-C

Incident date

March 1–31, 2013

Location

Kol, near Bula Xawa, Gedo, Somalia

Geolocation

3.928658, 41.874032 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Two airstrikes by an unknown belligerent hit the nomadic settlement of Kol, near the city of Bulla-Xama, in southwestern Somalia’s Gedo region, killing a mother and her two children and injuring five others, a young man who fled the settlement following the strike told the Kenyan group Journalists for Justice.

According to a report, Black and White, the two strikes happened at around noon on an unspecified date in March 2013, “killing a mother and her two children and 13 goats. Three other women and two children were injured.”

Currently, no further details are available, including the presumed target of the strike.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Unnamed mother Adult female killed
  • Unnamed 1 Child killed
  • Unnamed 2 Child killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that two airstrikes targeted the nomadic settlement of Kol, near the town Bula Xawa. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of the settlement of Kol. The coordinates of the town Bula Xawa are: 3.928658, 41.874032.

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (2 children1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (1) [ collapse]