US Forces in Somalia

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

Belligerent
Country
Somalia
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Contested
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USSOM308-C

Incident date

May 13, 2020

Location

Araboow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Airwars assessment

Between one or two civilians were allegedly injured in US or Kenyan airstrike on Araboow.

Halgan Media reported: “A series of blasts rocked a rural town of Araboow overnight in Somalia’s Middle Jubba province. The blasts said to be a result of a barrage of missiles fired down on the Militant controlled town.

Sources that spoke with Halgan Media revealed US drones launched 10 simultaneous strikes targeting the town of Araboow. The strikes are said to have hit three mini buses parked at a transit junction in the town.

Two civilians where confirmed to have been wounded in the indiscriminate aerial bombardment, while three mini buses where nearly obliterated and almost unrecognizable following the strikes.

The civilians in the mini buses targeted in the strike are said to have departed the capital Mogadishu and where traveling to the Kenyan occupied Northern Frontier District (NFD). The group than stopped in the town of Araboow to break there fast for ‘iftar’ when they where besieged by US droned according to sources.”

Somali Memo said one civilian was injured and added that the strike could have been conducted by Kenya or the US.

AFRICOM denied conducting a strike on Twitter.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • 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 (6) [ collapse]

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, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • 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 (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM307-C

Incident date

April 10, 2020

Location

Kamsuuma, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.249699, 42.780173 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

One elderly civilian, claimed by al Shabaab to be a tribal elder, was allegedly killed by a US airstrike in Kamsuuma. The US later pushed back heavily against the claim, insisting the victim was a terrorist.

AFRICOM initially described the action – which it said killed one al Shabaab fighter – as a response to US and partner forces coming under fire on the ground, noting “a collective self-defense strike against al-Shabaab terrorists who engaged U.S. partner forces, Somali National Army Danab, and Jubaland Security Force.”

Local media – some with pro Shabaab leanings – claimed the victim of the strike was a civilian. Halgan Media reported: “Confirmed reports reaching the Halgan Media service desk reveal suspected US drones bombed the Al Shabaab controlled town of Kabsumma in the Lower Jubba province of Somalia. Local media reports surfacing from Somalia’s Jubba Valley reveal unmanned drones fired a series of missiles on the town, which fatally struck a motorist. It’s being revealed the motorist died instantly in the drone strike. The victim has been identified as a local clan elder named Abbas Mohamed Haji. It’s not clear at the moment whether there are any more victims from the strike.”

Morad News said: “Reports of US drone strike in the outskirt of Kabsuuma town in Somalia’s Lower Jubba region. Prominent clan elder, Suldaan Abaas Mahamed Haji, Suldan of Jareerwene clan killed while riding on his motorbike”

AFRICOM itself declared two strikes in the area on April 9th and 10th: “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike against al-Shabaab terrorists who engaged U.S. partner forces, Somali National Army Danab, and Jubaland Security Force, near Kobon, Somalia, Apr. 9. The command also conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab terrorists in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, Apr. 10. The command’s initial assessment concluded the Apr. 9 airstrike killed ten (10) terrorists and that the Apr. 10 airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. U.S. Africa Command currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of these airstrikes.”

The press release of the Somali Ministry of Information revealed more on the location of the April 9th strike, which it said was conducted “in the vicinity of Koban between Jammaamme and Jilib Districts.” Kamsuuma is located between those two.

AFRICOM later overtly refuted claims of civilian harm in a detailed statement issued five days after the attack: “Immediately prior to the airstrike, this al-Shabaab terrorist displayed the murdered bodies of Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in a village. Following this act of coercion and intimidation, the al-Shabaab terrorist departed the village. Once isolated in a remote and secluded area, the terrorist was killed by an airstrike executed by the command in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.

“‘This was no innocent civilian. This was a purposeful and heinous act. It was a war crime by an al-Shabaab terrorist who desecrated bodies to scare and intimidate innocent Somalis into submission,’ said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. ‘This terrorist posed with al-Shabaab flags prominently displayed in the background as Somalis of all ages were exposed to his gruesome public display.’

“One of the two outlets falsely reporting civilian casualties is al-Shabaab associated news affiliate SomaliMemo. Weakened by sustained military operations led by the SNA and AMISOM forces, al-Shabaab is increasingly relying on lies and propaganda, including releasing gruesome pictures of unverified civilian casualties, in an effort to grab media attention, as well as deceive the Somali public.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (8) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Suldaan Abaas Mahamed Haji, allegedly killed by a US strike on Kamsuuma on April 9th or 10th (via Morad News)
  • Funeral of Suldaan Abaas Mahamed Haji, allegedly killed by a US strike on Kamsuuma on April 9th or 10th (via Halgan Media)
  • Funeral of Suldaan Abaas Mahamed Haji, allegedly killed by a US strike on Kamsuuma on April 9th or 10th (via Halgan Media)
  • Funeral of Suldaan Abaas Mahamed Haji, allegedly killed by a US strike on Kamsuuma on April 9th or 10th (via Halgan Media)
  • Funeral of Suldaan Abaas Mahamed Haji, allegedly killed by a US strike on Kamsuuma on April 9th or 10th (via Morad News)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention strikes in the vicinity of Kamsuuma, for which the generic coordinates are: 0.249699, 42.780173. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 15, 2020
  • U.S Africa Command is aware of two news affiliates alleging an innocent civilian was killed as a result of the command’s precision airstrike in the vicinity of Jamaame, Somalia, on Apr. 10, 2020. These allegations are based on al-Shabaab propaganda and are false. The terrorist that was killed in the Apr. 10 airstrike was an al-Shabaab member complicit in the murder of at least six innocent Somalis. Immediately prior to the airstrike, this al-Shabaab terrorist displayed the murdered bodies of Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers in a village. Following this act of coercion and intimidation, the al-Shabaab terrorist departed the village. Once isolated in a remote and secluded area, the terrorist was killed by an airstrike executed by the command in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia. “This was no innocent civilian. This was a purposeful and heinous act. It was a war crime by an al-Shabaab terrorist who desecrated bodies to scare and intimidate innocent Somalis into submission,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. "This terrorist posed with al-Shabaab flags prominently displayed in the background as Somalis of all ages were exposed to his gruesome public display.” One of the two outlets falsely reporting civilian casualties is al-Shabaab associated news affiliate SomaliMemo. Weakened by sustained military operations led by the SNA and AMISOM forces, al-Shabaab is increasingly relying on lies and propaganda, including releasing gruesome pictures of unverified civilian casualties, in an effort to grab media attention, as well as deceive the Somali public.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike against al-Shabaab terrorists who engaged U.S. partner forces, Somali National Army Danab, and Jubaland Security Force, near Kobon, Somalia, Apr. 9.
The command also conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab terrorists in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, Apr. 10.
Somali security forces continue to lead operations alongside African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces to increase security and seize ground from al-Shabaab.
"Our assistance continues to build on the gains our partners are making," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos, deputy director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. "The SNA and African partners on the ground keep hitting al-Shabaab hard, and it's having an effect on the al-Shabaab terror network."
The command's initial assessment concluded the Apr. 9 airstrike killed ten (10) terrorists and that the Apr. 10 airstrike killed one (1) terrorist.
U.S. Africa Command currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of these airstrikes.
U.S. Africa Command and our international partners recognize that stability in Somalia will not be achieved through purely military means. It requires providing programs and opportunity for the Somali people.
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. Together with the partner and allied forces, U.S. Africa Command works on a daily basis to improve security conditions to enhance governance and economic development.
U.S. Africa Command continues to work with its Somali partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (13) [ 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

Geolocation accuracy

Village

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
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • 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

United States Armed 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
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM253

Incident date

October 25, 2019

Location

Bu'aale, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

1.251778, 42.575959 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Local reports claimed that a pair of airstrikes by unknown intertnational powers – presumably either the United States or Kenya – had targeted al Shabaab fighters in the towns of Jamaame and Buaale.

According to Radio Kulmiye, “Another airstrikes were reported [on Octoberr 25th] from Middle Jubba region, highly controlled by Al-Shabaab. Witnesses said that Jamame and Bu’ale districts were targeted by unspecified war planes. An official named Hussien is said to heve [been] wounded the airstrike and other militants were killed. There is no government claimed responsibility, but US and Kenyan governments always conduct air strikes to eliminate Al-Shabaab. Somali government is also yet to comment these strikes.”

Somalia Online News reported al Shabaab casualties at Buaale though not at Jamaame: ”Gunmen have attacked the villages of Jamame and Buale last night and reportedly killed al-Shabaab fighters and officials. Residents told the media that at Buale an al Shabaab officer called Hussein was wounded, with several members of al-Shabaab killed.”

Asked whether it had been responsible for this event, in February 2020 a senior AFRICOM official told Airwars that this was not the case. However, this may not preclude actions by the CIA which conducts its own undeclared strikes in Somalia.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the town Bu’aale, for which the coordinates are: 1.251778, 42.575959. 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
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM204-C

Incident date

March 7–8, 2019

Location

Gamboole, Middle Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

3.084048, 45.181788 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

According to local reports a US airstrike, carried out as part of a land and air operation, was conducted in the Gambole area killing up to eight alleged Al-Shabaab fighters on March 8th. Two civilians were also reportedly killed in the strike and four more injured, Voice of America said.

According to Mareeg: “U.S. forces have launched a new air and ground operation to oust Al Shabaab militia from towns in south of Somalia. Somali especial forces were also involved in the operation carried out in Gambole area, some 50km away from Jowhar town. Jowhar, a town lies some 91km north of Somali capital Mogadishu.

“The operation triggered a brief gun battle between the coalition forces and Al Shabaab, according to a witness, who asked to be anonymous. Somali regional officials said at least 8 militants were killed in air strike after ground offensive.”

According to Halgan Media: “#US Special Forces conducted a Night raid overnight targeting Gambole village in Southern #Somalia. Fierce clashes erupted between Militants & #US Special Forces. The Americans retreated under the cover of unmarked Helicopters & the village was hit with Drone Strike shortly after”.

However Voice of America Somali reported that two civilians were killed and four injured in the raid: “Residents told VOA that the shelling targeted a building occupied by al-Shabaab militants, offices and judicial and training centers. The attack, which resulted in heavy casualties among Al-Shabaab militias, is said to have been carried out by Somali and US forces although this has not been confirmed.

A senior official of said that at least eight Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the operation. Two civilians were also killed and four others injured. Al-Shabaab officials said they had lost about three members, including Gambole County chief of operations, and the deputy chief of finance for al-Shabaab. Gamboole is al-Shabaab’s largest base in the Middle Shabelle region. There have been no reports from al-Shabaab and Somali government forces so far.”

Garowe Online also reported two civilian deaths in the raid.

Soomaaliweyn published what it said were munitions left behind after the raid. And Gedo Times said that “Residents said that they first heard the sound of a helicopter flying in at low altitude area and then heard a loud crash in the area, followed by foreign and Somali troops inside Gamboole, an al-Shabaab stronghold, to carry out various actions. No one has been able to confirm the casualties caused by the shelling but the Gamboole area is an important area for al-Shabaab.”

In April 2020 AFRICOM denied responsibility, noting in its first quarterly civilian harm report: “January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming two (2) civilians were killed and four (4) injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Gambole, Somalia, on March 8, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date and location.”

However, since the allegation clearly refers to a joint US-Somali ground operation as well as a possible airstrike, Airwars reached out for further clarification. On May 6th 2020, an AFRICOM official stated the following:

“The term ‘strike’ is defined as U.S. munitions of any type employed by U.S. military forces under the authority of U.S. Africa Command. This includes both air and ground operations.

1) Were US ground forces present as alleged?

USAFRICOM forces were not in the vicinity of where the alleged civilian harm occurred.

2) Did US ground forces engage in kinetic actions?

USAFRICOM did not execute a kinetic strike on the alleged date.

3) Are any US kinetic ground actions believed to have contributed to civilian harm?

USAFRICOM ground forces did not contribute to the alleged civilian harm.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (10) [ collapse]

  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)
  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)
  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)
  • Reported image from a Somali_US raid on an al Shabaab base at Gambole, March 7th-8th in which two civilians were among those reported killed (Image via Caasimada)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted an Al Shabaab camp in the village of Gamboole in South Somalia, some 50 kilometers from of the town Jowhar. The coordinates for the village Gamboole are: 3.084048, 45.181788. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • May 6, 2020
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming two (2) civilians were killed and four (4) injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Gambole, Somalia, on March 8, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date and location.

  • For the Civilian Casualty Quarterly Assessment report the term "strike" is defined as U.S. munitions of any type employed by U.S. military forces under the authority of U.S. Africa Command. This includes both air and ground operations. We have answered the questions separately under each numbered incident. 1) Were US ground forces present as alleged? USAFRICOM forces were not in the vicinity of where the alleged civilian harm occurred. 2) Did US ground forces engage in kinetic actions? USAFRICOM did not execute a kinetic strike on the alleged date. 3) Are any US kinetic ground actions believed to have contributed to civilian harm? USAFRICOM ground forces did not contribute to the alleged civilian harm.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM194-C

Incident date

February 11, 2019

Location

Tuwaareey, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.89512, 44.76052 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

US Africa Command initially reported that it had carried out two airstrikes in the vicinity of Janaale in the lower Shabelle region. AFRICOM stated that “the first airstrike on February 11 had killed eight militants and the second airstrike killed four militants” with a total of 12 killed.

AFRICOM added that “at this time, it was assessed no civilians were injured or killed in either airstrike.” However, in the second event – which locals placed at the village of Tuwaareey – up to 13 civilians were locally reported killed. AFRICOM later denied the claim.

Mareeg reported on February 12th for example that according to Al-Shabaab, several civilian homes had been razed by the airstrikes and suggesting that civilian harm could have occurred, though no civilian casualties were known to have been reported at the time by the terror group.

In September 2019, TRT World Research Centre alleged that up to 13 civilians were killed in what was described as a joint air and ground operation.

“On 11 February, Fatima, a 48 year old mother of 10, witnessed a US drone strike, which destroyed her home and property in the vicinity of Tuwaareey, a farming vicinity near Jannaale in the southeastern Lower Shebelle region of Somalia. Fatima was preparing breakfast on a Monday morning when airstrikes struck her village. TRT World Research Centre documented the following testimony:

‘I was at home and preparing breakfast for my children at 7:00 am on a Monday morning. The attack caused huge damage to the area.’ At the time of speaking with Fatima, the witness said ‘my daughter and her two kids are still missing since that day. I do not know if they are alive or not. My daughter was living in the small village next to mine, which are both in the same vicinity. My farmland was destroyed, including
my harvested grain’. At the time of investigating the incident for this report, it was not possible to verify what happened to Fatima’s daughter or two grandchildren.

Fatima told TRT World Research Centre that she fled the village following the attack, and traveled to an IDP camp. In a separate interview in June 201921, Fatima reiterated
that she is still not in touch with her daughter and two grandchildren. It is possible that they may have been killed in the attack or fled the area to a different IDP camp. Fatima estimated that some 10 civilians were killed in the airstrikes – among them were Fatima’s younger sister and two of her cousins (one male and one female).

‘The strikes took place in Tuuwaarreey village, near to Jannaale town. There were no Al Shabaab around us people – farmers. The attack was conducted with a ‘Diyaarad’
(plane) and the civilians were being targeted. There was an Al Shabaab base nearby to our village, but they were not present at the time of the attack’, Fatima continued…

A local news media outlet, Goobjoog News, reported lethal activity in the vicinity of Janaale in the Lower Shabelle region on the 11 February 2019. ‘The attack took place at midnight as Somali army officials confirmed to us. The report added that military planes first conducted airstrikes on an Al Shabaab base, followed by a direct gun-fight between Al Shabaab fighters and Somali soldiers who landed after the strike.’ In addition, the report states “[t]here is no confirmation of the casualties caused by this strike, but the Somali army and the U.S. soldiers have been recently launching operations against Al Shabaab.’

“TRT World Research Centre’s investigation finds evidence contrary to that of AFRICOM’s assessment that no civilians were killed in the strike. The testimony
of Fatima presents that a possible 13 civilians were killed based on testimony. Based on the interview documented for this incident, the US may have failed in taking adequate precautions to avoid any civilian casualties while pursuing Al-Shabaab. There was a lack of precision in targeting, notably in a location that is not declared a battlefield. It is likely that if the US had not executed this lethal action, the civilians would not have been affected. Under international law, indiscriminate attacks or injury to non-combatants may equate to war crimes. Thus, the US government and relevant departments must ensure an independent and impartial investigation is conducted on this lethal action.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by US reporter Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM gave the location of the strike as being in the vicinity of Janalle, and said the targets had been al Shabaab fighters.

In April 2020, AFRICOM denied civilian harm in this event: “September 23, 2019, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming thirteen (13) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Janaale, Somalia, on February 11, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place at the alleged time and location.”

Airwars reached out to US Africa Command for further clarification on possible involvement of US ground forces. AFRICOM confirmed that “the term ‘strike’ is defined as U.S. munitions of any type employed by U.S. military forces under the authority of U.S. Africa Command. This includes both air and ground operations.”

An official also provided the following responses:

“1) Were US ground forces present as alleged?

USAFRICOM forces were not in the vicinity of where the alleged civilian harm occurred.

2) Did US ground forces engage in kinetic actions?

USAFRICOM executed a kinetic strike on behalf of our Somali partners in self-defense, but that strike occurred at a different time and location than the airstrikes allegedly causing civilian harm.

3) Are any US kinetic ground actions believed to have contributed to civilian harm?

USAFRICOM ground forces did not contribute to the alleged civilian harm.”

The incident occured at approximately 7:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (6)

  • Sister of Fatima Adult female killed
  • Cousin of Fatima Adult female killed
  • Cousin of Fatima Adult male killed
  • Daughter of Fatima female Missing presumed dead killed
  • Granddaughter of Fatima Child female Missing presumed dead killed
  • Grandchild of Fatima Child Missing presumed dead killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    10 – 13
  • (0–2 children2 women1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–12

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted civilian homes in the vicinity of the village Tuwaareey (or Tuaarey), close to the town Janaale. 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 village Tuwaareey are: 1.89512, 44.76052.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 30, 2020
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • September 23, 2019, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming thirteen (13) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Janaale, Somalia, on February 11, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place at the alleged time and location.

  • 1) Were US ground forces present as alleged? USAFRICOM forces were not in the vicinity of where the alleged civilian harm occurred. 2) Did US ground forces engage in kinetic actions? USAFRICOM executed a kinetic strike on behalf of our Somali partners in self-defense, but that strike occurred at a different time and location than the airstrikes allegedly causing civilian harm. 3) Are any US kinetic ground actions believed to have contributed to civilian harm? USAFRICOM ground forces did not contribute to the alleged civilian harm.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In support of the Federal Government of Somalia's consistent efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted two airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab in the vicinity of Janaale, Lower Shebelle Region, Somalia, on February 11, 2019.

Precision airstrikes support Somali partners’ ongoing efforts to reduce al-Shabaab safe havens, degrade the terrorists’ infrastructure, and destroy terrorist equipment. Airstrikes complement our Somali partners’ successes against al-Shabaab, and are one component of our combined effort to protect the Somali people from terrorism.

“Our security partners are actively executing operations in Somalia to increase the span of governance of the Federal Government of Somalia,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. “Somali security forces are effectively targeting al-Shabaab forces to create space for governance and development in Somalia.”

The airstrikes on February 11 were executed as Somali forces were leading an operation in an area where al-Shabaab conducts terrorist activities, as well as exploits the local populace for illegal taxes. Somali-led operations like this are vital to maintaining pressure on the terrorist network.

U.S. Africa Command currently assesses the first airstrike on February 11 killed eight militants and the second airstrike killed four militants.

At this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in either airstrike.

We will continue to work with our partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States, and U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to protect the Somali people from terrorists.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    10 – 13
  • (0–2 children2 women1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4–12

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM182-C

Incident date

January 20, 2019

Location

Radio Andalus, 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

A reported airstrike or bomb blast by an unknown party on an al Shabaab radio station in Buale or Jilib town killed up to 25 al Shabaab supporters – five of them journalists. US Africa Command later denied responsibility.

According to Sonna Somalia, “At least 10 people have been killed and more than 30 others injured in a bomb blast in Jilib district in Middle Jubba region, witnesses said. The shelling caused heavy casualties to Al-Shabaab journalists who were in the compound during the shelling. Officials in the Jubbaland state confirmed the shelling on Al-Andulus Radio, an Al-Shabaab radio station, killing about 20 militants. According to local media, at least five Al-Shabaab journalists were killed and the radio station was demolished.”

It named the dead journalists as Feisalal Yare, Mohamed Adan Nasrudiin, Abdikarim Seyfulah, and Hassan Abdirahman.

Mogadishu News said that five journalists and 20 al Shabaab fighters were killed, in what it claimed was an airstrike on Jilib town.

In April 2020, AFRICOM denied responsibility for the event noting: “January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming up to five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on January 20, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.”

Airwars continues to count this as a possible US action, since it may have been a non-declared CIA strike.

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
    0 – 5
  • (0–5 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–25
  • Belligerents reported injured
    30

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted Al Shabaab radio station Al Andalus in the town of Jilib. Some sources also mention the town Bu’aale, but Radio Andalus is known to be located in Jilib. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location for Radio Andalus. The coordinates for the town Jilib (جيليب) are: 0.494527, 42.777868.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming up to five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on January 20, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 5
  • (0–5 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–25
  • Belligerents reported injured
    30

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM156-C

Incident date

November 18, 2018

Location

Radio Andalus, 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

Airstrikes by an unknown party destroyed part of an al-Andalus radio station in Jilib – a propaganda service run by the terror group al Shabaab. At least one person described as a journalist was reported injured or killed.

According to Middle East Monitor, “An air strike; believed to be American, has destroyed the Al-Andalus radio station; the main media platform for Somalia’s al-Shabab group in the city of Jilib in Middle Juba region, south of the country. The radio station broadcasts daily news about the attacks carried out by the rebels against government sites.

“Somalia’s Sonna news agency quoted security sources as saying that the city of Jilib witnessed last night air raids against various locations where the fighters were stationed. The sources said the radio station was one of the target sites, adding that the station’s headquarters was completely destroyed, and all those who were inside were killed.”

Voice of America reporter Harun Maruf also noted the event, though said he was unsure of the date of the alleged attack: “Al-Shabaab’s Andalus radio station in Jilib town hit in airstrike, Somali Govt radio has reported. The station didn’t specify when the strike took place. Jilib is an Al-Shabaab stronghold in southern Somalia.”

US military officials publicly denied responsibility for the attack – though this left open the possibility of CIA involvement. The radio station was again targeted on January 20th 2019 by an unknown party – killing five more individuals described as al Shabaab journalists according to local reports.

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
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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, Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted the Al Shabaab radio station Al Andalus in the town Jilib. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of Radio Andalus. The coordinates for the town Jilib are: 0.494527, 42.777868.

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
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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, Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (3) [ collapse]