US Forces in Somalia

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

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment

Incident Code

USYEMTr234-C

Incident date

March 16, 2021

Location

حي جو النسيم, Jao Al-Naseem, Marib, Yemen

Airwars assessment

Local sources in Marib reported casualties among civilians as a result of a reported attack either by a US-drone on a car entering a popular market in Marib – or by a Houthi balluistic missile strike on the market – on March 16th, 2021.

While @aalnaasi said the attack happened on Dahbeel station in Al-Naseem, @assssa1234a said that the attack led to the killing of two people who were in the car, and the injuring of citizens who were in the vicinity.

The Yemeni news agency Saba claimed that a US drone had targeted an unknown car as it entered a crowd of citizens’ vehicles in the Jao Al-Naseem neighbourhood, east of the city of Ma’rib. A local source told Saba that ” an American drone targeted an unidentified car with a laser-guided missile while entering the middle of a car gathering in the Jao Al-Naseem neighborhood, resulting in deaths on board the car and wounding a number of citizens near it.”

Saba also claimed that “It is noteworthy that American drones have intensified their raids on the governorates of Marib and Shabwa over the past few days.” However no further proofs were offered to support that claim.

While most sources blamed a US drone for the attack, al Jazeera reported ” 2 dead and 7 wounded due to the fall of a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis on a popular market in Marib city”.

The identity of those killed is not clear yet and no further information is presently available. A a possible moratorium on US strikes in Yemen by the Biden Administration may also have been in operation since January 20th 2021.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    7
  • 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, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Houthi Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Civilians reported injured
    7
  • 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, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM336

Incident date

February 17, 2021

Location

Hantiwadaag, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.88721, 44.7789 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A single source alleged a US drone strike on Hantidawaag which AFRICOM later denied.

Halgan Media wrote: “US drones just bombed the village of Hantiwadaag in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle province and struck a vehicle carrying a group of Al Shabaab fighters – Sources.”

AFRICOM responded to a request from Airwars: “U.S. Africa Command’s last strikes were conducted on Jan. 19 2021.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Hantiwadaag, for which the generic coordinates are: 1.88721, 44.7789. 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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

U.S. Africa Command's last strikes were conducted on Jan. 19 2021.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM335

Incident date

February 11, 2021

Location

Salagle, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

1.81004, 42.28991 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

District

Airwars assessment

Several Al Shabaab militants were reported killed at Salagle in a military strike which two local sources claimed was a US drone action. However AFRICOM explicitly denied this in an email to Airwars, insisting that “U.S. Africa Command’s last airstrike in Somalia was conducted Jan. 19, 2021.”

Intelligence Briefs said: “A number of Al-Shabaab operatives including some mid-level commander are believed to have been killed and compounds destroyed after four drone missiles hit targets in Sakow and Salagle localities of Middle Jubba region of Somalia.

Open sources and local media reported that suspected US drone conducted the air raid on the two Al-Shabaab stronghold towns in Middle Jubba region.”

Somaliland wrote: “Dozens of al-Shabaab members including their commanders are feared dead after four missiles hit their stronghold towns in Sakow and Salagle localities.

local media reported that suspected US drones bombed the two al-Shabaab controled towns in Middle Jubba region. It is not clear the exact casualties of the attacks but officials who are privy to the missions, claimed one of the targets was a meeting point attended by a number of al-Shabaab commanders.”

 

The incident occured around midnight.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6–12

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the district of Salagle, for which the generic coordinates are: 1.81004, 42.28991. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the district of Salagle.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

U.S. Africa Command's last airstrike in Somalia was conducted Jan. 19, 2021.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6–12

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM334

Incident date

February 11, 2021

Location

سااكوو, Sakow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

1.640397, 42.452334 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

Several Al Shabaab militants were reported killed at Sakow in a military strike which several local sources claimed was a US drone action. However AFRICOM explicitly denied this in an email to Airwars, insisting that “U.S. Africa Command’s last airstrike in Somalia was conducted Jan. 19, 2021.”

Geesguud initially reported: “Residents in Middle Jubba reported a suspected US airstrike in their vicinity on Wednesday. Locals from the Sakow district reported hearing the rumblings of fighter jets late in the evening, followed by artillery shelling and bombs. The residents believe US forces were targeting Al-Shabaab bases in their surrounding area.”

Warsan Radio also claimed that most strikes had been carried out by US drones and others by fighter jets.

Somaliland wrote that “dozens of al-Shabaab members including their commanders are feared dead after four missiles hit their stronghold towns in Sakow and Salagle localities.”

Badweyn Times was alone in alleging civilian harm, though blamed local Somali forces: “Reports from Sakow district in middle Jubba, Somalia indicate that there are significant reports of heavy shelling on children and other civilians. The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a children’s home in Sakow district.  Out of the above 80 children were killed, while declare that there was still a number of serious offenses. Many children spoke out when the announcement was made after it was important as an emergency, according to one resident.

Security sources say Colonel Abdullah Dahir Abdullah (Ugas Abdalla) is responsible for the planned insult and the whole air strike. The site of the bombing was said to be caring for orphans between the ages of 5 and 12 and also part of a food service for the elderly people in the town.”

Highly unusually, no other media or local sources reported civilian harm in this event from any party despite Badweyn’s claim of high civilian deaths. While Airwars includes this claim here for completion, we do not presently consider this to be a valid civilian harm allegation.

The incident occured around midnight.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, somalia_military_forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6–12

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the vicinity of Sakow (سااكوو) city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Sakow are: 1.640397, 42.452334.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

U.S. Africa Command's last airstrike in Somalia was conducted Jan. 19, 2021.

somalia_military_forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, somalia_military_forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6–12

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM333

Incident date

January 29, 2021

Location

Ma'moodow, Bakool, South West State, Somalia

Geolocation

4.12303, 43.890121 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

According to Somali official and media sources, an airstrike targeted a group of al Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of Ma’moodow town in Bakool province on January 29th.

According to an official statement from the Security Ministry of South West State, the attack was conducted by “friends of Somalia.”

Following requests for clarification, AFRICOM publicly denied responsibility for the event, insisting that the last US military action had been on January 19th – the last full day of the Trump presidency. .

Reports of a strike first emerged late on the night of January 29th, with Halgan Media asserting that “Sources reveal suspected US drones carried out a drone strike Tonight and bombed the Al Shabaab controlled town of Ma’moodow in the Bakool province of Somalia. Per Sources, the drone strike occurred at around 10PM local time.”

Halgan later added that “Sources confirm the (drone) strike targeted a group of Al Shabaab fighters that where conjured together in Ma’moodow and waiting for vehicles coming from the direction of Ceelbarde, when they came under attack from an American drone….Per sources the drone strike in Bakool came after Al Shabaab fighters ambushed a contingent of Ethiopian troops escorting supplies by road upon departing Ceelbarde. After the ambush, the insurgents gathered in Ma’moodow, which was followed by a strike”.

Anadolu Agency was among media citing a statement later published by the Security Ministry of Southwest State, which reportedly “said that US airstrikes killed several senior al-Shabaab commanders in the southwestern Bakool region. According to a statement issued by the ministry, the airstrikes took place in the vicinity of Ma’moodow, 410 km (254 mi) from Mogadishu.”

That statement in fact referred only to a strike by “friends of Somalia” – though officials appear to have briefed local reporters in more detail.

On February 1st 2021, responding to an email query from Airwars, AFRICOM’s public affairs team noted: “We are aware of the reporting. U.S. Africa Command was not involved in the Jan. 29 action referenced below. U.S. Africa Command last strike was conducted on Jan. 19. Our policy of acknowledging all airstrikes by either press release
or response to query has not changed.”

In light of that denial – and given a possible link between the strike and an earlier reported nearby attack on Ethiopian troops – Airwars presently determines that this was likely an AMISOM or Ethiopian action. Radio Dalsan and Badweyn Times reported the strike was conducted with fighter jets.

The incident occured at approximately 10:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    amisol_military_forces, United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the town of Ma’Moodow, allegedly located 40km away from the city of Hudur, with sources suggesting it being situated in the direction of Ceel Barde. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Hudur are: 4.12303, 43.890121.

  • Reports of the incident mention the town of Ma’Moodow, allegedly located 40km away from the city of Hudur, with sources suggesting it being situated in the direction of Ceel Barde.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

amisol_military_forces Assessment:

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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"We are aware of the reporting. U.S. Africa Command was not involved in the
Jan. 29 action referenced below. U.S. Africa Command last strike was conducted
on Jan. 19. Our policy of acknowledging all airstrikes by either press release
or response to query has not changed."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    amisol_military_forces, United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4

Sources (9) [ collapse]