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
Infrastructure

Incident Code

USSOM372

Incident date

February 10, 2023

Location

Donlaye, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

5.266021, 47.910851 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between 12 and 117 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared AFRICOM airstrikes and/or Somali National Army operations in Donlaye, near Amara town, on February 10, 2023.

AFRICOM released a statement on February 12th that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike Feb 10, 2023. The strike occurred in a remote area approximately 45 km southwest of Hobyo, Somalia, and about 472 km northeast of Mogadishu. The initial assessment is the strike killed 12 al-Shabaab fighters. Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.”

A tweet from Somali National News Agency (SONNA) released a statement from the Somali National Army’s Infantry chief, G. M. Tahalil, that “117 Alshabab terrorists were killed in a operation carried out by #Somali National Army and Galmudug regional forces with support of airstrike from Somalia’s international security partners in Donlaye, near Amara town.”

Saudi Gazette News added that the operation lasted eight hours long and resulted in security forces chasing the remnants of al-Shabaab members into the forest.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    12–117

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention Donlaye, allegedly in the vicinity of Amara. The generic coordinates for Amara are: 5.266021, 47.910851. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike Feb 10, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area approximately 45 km southwest of Hobyo, Somalia, and about 472 km northeast of Mogadishu.

The initial assessment is the strike killed 12 al-Shabaab fighters.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

Rooting out extremism requires intervention beyond traditional military means.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorist. Military actions are only a part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in their ongoing campaign.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners -- diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

“U.S. Africa Command provides support to the Somali government to address terrorist threats, but we are only part of the U.S. efforts there,” said Gen. Michael Langley, AFRICOM commander. “Our Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development colleagues have programs that help build resilience through education and training; develop agricultural diversity; improve markets and trade; and strengthen democracy and good governance.”

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command's forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command's operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    12–117

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM386

Incident date

May 26, 2023

Location

Vicinity of ATMIS forward operating base, Bulo Marer, 75 miles south-west of Mogadishu, Somalia

Airwars assessment

On the 26th of May, 2023, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of an ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) forward operating base in Bulo Marer, 75 miles southwest of Mogadishu, Somalia. To date, there have been no reports of civilian harm with regard to the airstrike, while a local source reported that “many” Al-Shabaab members were killed.

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) released a statement on the strike on the 27th May 2023, claiming that the strike had “destroyed weapons and equipment unlawfully taken by Shabaab fighters” and added that “the command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed”. AFRICOM also stated that the strike had been carried out “in support of the Federal Government of Somalia”.

Arab News reported, on the 28th of May, that local residents and a Somali commander had spoken to AFP, claiming that “Al-Shabaab militants drove a car laden with explosives into the (ATMIS) base, prompting a gunfight”.

On the 28th of May, a reporter for Garowe Online added further details and context, stating that the Al-Shabaab fighters had “initiated dawn attacks mainly targeting the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF)” who were serving as part of a peace-keeping mission.

A report from ‘Antiwar.com’ stated that the assault had started with suicide car bombings, adding that Al-Shabaab had “claimed that it had killed 137 soldiers in the attack”. However, ‘Antiwar.com’ noted that this claim was unconfirmed.

A report written by Somalia News (@SomaliaNews252), dated the 27th of May, stated that U.S. airstrikes had “destroyed vehicles” taken by Al-Shabaab as they retreated from Bulo Marer. On the 30th of May, ATMIS Somalia posted an online statement via X/Twitter that ATMIS and SNA (Somalia National Armed Forces) troops had “successfully pursued the fleeing Al-Shabaab terrorists” and claimed that “many” terrorists had been killed.

Voice of America journalist, Harun Maruf, reported that the President of Uganda, Katuga Museveni, had made comments on the Al-Shabaab attack: “@KatugaMuseveni says about 800 al-Shabaab fighters were involved in the attack; admitted that Al-Shabaab overran the base”.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

In support of the Federal Government of Somalia and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia operations against al Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike against militants in the vicinity of the ATMIS forward operating base, FOB Bulo Marer on May 26.

The strike destroyed weapons and equipment unlawfully taken by al Shabaab fighters.

The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed.

U.S. Africa Command takes great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote a more secure and stable Africa.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–10

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM383

Incident date

May 2, 2023

Location

near Nungare, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.047260, 44.897476 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

More than 40 al-Shabaab militants were killed during operations carried out by Somalia government forces and international partners near Nungare/ Barire town in Lower Shabelle on May 2, 2023.

The National Intelligence & Security Agency (NISA) @HSNQ_NISA tweeted that more than 40 al-Shabaab militants, including leaders and foreigners, were killed during an army operation in collaboration with international partners. The statement added that the al-Shabaab members were organizing themselves in the area in preparation for an attack.

Radio Kismaayo reported that 10 foreign fighters were among the al-Shabaab members killed and that the operation occurred near Nungare in the Afgoy district, Lower Shabelle region. @sntvnews1 identified the location as being farmland near Barire town.

While no sources directly implicated the US in the operation, the Somali government’s reference to “international partners” has in the past indicated US involvement.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attackers
    Somali Military Forces, US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    40

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention farmland in the vicinity of the town of Barire, for which the generic coordinates are: 2.047260, 44.897476. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Somali Military Forces Assessment:

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

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attackers
    Somali Military Forces, US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    40

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM395

Incident date

July 21, 2023

Location

Buurhakaba town, Bay, Somalia

Airwars assessment

A tweet from @ArlaadiMnetwork quoted Buurhakaba town commissioner Ibrahim Mohamed Leysamow that “11 #AlShabab fighters were killed in a fresh airstrike conducted by international friends besides the city.’

No other information was available regarding the strike and who was responsible.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    11

Sources (1) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    11

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM373

Incident date

February 15, 2023

Location

Bacadweyne, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

7.192943, 47.526123 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between five and 70 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared US airstrikes and/or Somali government ground actions near Bacadweyne in the Mudug of central Galmudug state on February 15, 2023.

AFRICOM released a statement on February 16th that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Feb 15, 2023. The strike occurred in a remote area approximately near Bacadweyne, Somalia which is approximately 460 km northwest of Mogadishu. The initial assessment is the strike killed 5 al-Shabaab fighters. Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.”

Voice of America (VOA) quoted Somalia’s Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Adala who said that more than 70 militants were killed in three days of fighting in Mudug state. VOA also quoted Al-Shabab’s military operations spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Muscab spoke to the armed group’s mobile radio station, Al-furqan and said that “Our Mujahidin fighters carried out attacks on apostate soldiers and the backing militias in Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, middle Shabelle and Hiran regions for the past 24 hours, killing more than 60 of the enemy [government soldiers] and over 40 were injured.” VOA added that it could not verify either claim.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–70

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Bacadweyne, for which the generic coordinates are: 7.192943, 47.526123. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Feb 15, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area approximately near Bacadweyne, Somalia which is approximately 460 km northwest of Mogadishu.

The initial assessment is the strike killed 5 al-Shabaab fighters.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorist. Military actions are just one part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in their ongoing campaign.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners -- diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command's forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command and partner forces will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command's operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–70

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM406

Incident date

September 23, 2023

Location

Villages of Balal-Dheer, El-Gambar, and Mililiqo, Gal-Gaduud, Somalia

Airwars assessment

Local and official sources alleged that 27 al-Shabaab militants were killed by operations and airstrikes declared by the Somali military in the villages of Balal-Dheer, El-Gambar, and Mililiqo on September 22, 2023.

On Friday the 22nd of September, 2023, the Somali Ministry of Defense posted a statement on X / Twitter that “over 27 Khawarij militants were eliminated in a successful operation by the Somali National Army”. Yeni Safak News provided further details of the Ministry of Defense statement: that the operation had taken place in the villages of Balal-Dheer, El-Gambar, and Mililiqo where “three terrorist bases were targeted and destroyed, along with their vehicles and military equipment”. Also on the 22nd of September, Garowe Online News added context to the attacks, noting recent “intensified ops involving airstrikes in south and central Somalia”.

Osman Omar, an open-source intelligence investigator, posted on X / Twitter, on the 23rd of September, that the Somali Air Force had “successfully targeted and neutralized an Al-Shabaab convoy” in the Gal-Gaduud region after a tip-off was received by the Somali National Army from a nomadic resident regarding the presence of Al-Shabaab militants in the areas of Balal and God Shilin. Omar stated that “Somali Air Forces swiftly acted, eliminating both vehicles and dozens of Al-Shabaab fighters”. There have been no reports of civilian casualties connected to the strikes.

While no sources directly implicated the US in the operation, the Somali government’s reference to airstrikes has in the past indicated US involvement.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    Somali Military Forces, US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    27

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Source: @Osman_estate
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Source: @Osman_estate

Somali Military Forces Assessment:

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

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    Somali Military Forces, US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    27

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM384

Incident date

May 13, 2023

Location

Ali Fuuto, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.545015, 44.042082 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

44 al-Shabaab militants were killed during operations carried out by Somalia government forces and international partners in the Ali Fuuto area in Lower Shabelle on May 13, 2023.

Voice of America quoted Somalia’s deputy information minister, Abdirahman Al-Adala, who said that the intelligence unit, with the support of international partners, killed 44 al-Shabab militants in the Ali Fuuto area while they were regrouping in the area at the time. Various Twitter accounts quoted this information without offering additional details.

While no sources directly implicated the US in the operation, the Somali government’s reference to “international partners” has in the past indicated US involvement.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Somali Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    44

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Ali Fuuto, for which the generic coordinates are: 1.545015, 44.042082. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Somali Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Somali Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    44

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM396

Incident date

July 24, 2023

Location

in the Bisig Adde settlement of Buurhakabe district, Bay, Somalia

Airwars assessment

Mepa News reported that US airstrikes on the Bisig Adde settlement of Buurhakabe district on July 24, 2023 bombarded civilian areas, resulting in the death of 5 civilians, including children, and the injury of 10 civilians. Images posted by the source show multiple injured civilians being treated.

No other sources reported on this incident.

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (2 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    10
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Civilians killed and injured by alleged US airstrikes in Somalia on July 24, 2023. (Image posted by Mepa News)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (2 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    10
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]