At least 60 Al-Shabaab militants were reported killed in a declared US airstrike in support of Somali ground actions, at Fiidow village in Hiiraan on February 22, 2022.
Somali National Television reported that “over 60 Al Shabab terrorists were killed in a planned security operation conducted by #Somali National Army with support of airstrikes of Somalia’s security partners in Fiidow village of #Hiiraan region on Tuesday, SNA chief Ge. Odawa Yusuf confirmed to State Media.” The location and casualties were also confirmed by a government spokeswoman.
According to Mareeg, the Somali military stated that they had killed 60 militants, including their commander, whose name has not been released, in addition to also destroying the group’s safe houses, a so-called mobile court and explosive centers in Hiran region.”
The Somali Guardian also reported that militants claimed seven Somali government soldiers had been killed in an ambush carried out by Al-Shabaab.
The New York Times reported that the strike was carried out with an MQ-9 Reaper and followed an attack on allied Somali forces in Duduble, about 40 miles northwest of Mogadishu.
The New York Times also added details about the decision to carry out the strike, which “as in four previous attacks since President Biden took office, White House approval was not needed because the Africa Command has the authority to conduct strikes in support of allied forces under what the military calls collective self-defense.” However, “There were no U.S. forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation, an Africa Command spokesman said. Instead, U.S. forces were advising and assisting the Somali forces’ mission from a remote location, but the official did not say where that was.”
AFRICOM released a statement a day after the incident declaring that “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorists after they attacked partner forces in a remote location near Duduble, Somalia, February 22.” While it stated that a battle-damage assessment was still pending, “the command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.”
AFRICOM cited both self defence, and the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as justification for the strike.
This incident marked the first declared US strike in Somalia by AFRICOM since August 2021. Five days before the action, AFRICOM commander General Townsend had visited US forces in Somalia – as unnamed senior US defense officials briefed Stars and Stripes that ‘U.S.-backed forces in Somalia are now outgunned by Africa’s largest terrorist group, raising concerns that a 2021 decision to pull out American troops and curtail airstrikes has helped the militants’ insurgency expand’.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (14) [ collapse]
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorists after they attacked partner forces in a remote location near Duduble, Somalia, February 22.
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.
A battle-damage assessment is still pending. The command’s initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.
The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command forces 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 civilians. Violent extremist organizations like al-Shabaab present long-term threats to the U.S. and regional interests.