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

USSOM318

Incident date

September 9, 2020

Location

Amreereey, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.42943, 42.715401 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

An alleged US drone strike killed 17 Al Shabaab fighters near Amreereey.

SNA, the Somali forces’ radio, said that the strike “was carried out in collaboration with the Somali National Army and its international allies, took place in Amrerey area of Jilib district in Middle Juba region.” It added: “The militants killed in the shelling were 17 as well as al-Shabaab’s chief of finance for Jubba regions, Sheikh Abdullahi Ali Adan.”

Halgan Media quoted the SNA piece and said 18 militants were killed in an apparent error. It suspected that US drones conducted the strikes.

In an email to Airwars, AFRICOM said that it conducted the last strike in Somalia on August 25th. However, a CIA drone strike remains a possibility.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the vicinity of the Amreereey area. A possible location for this area is the Mareerey area, for which the generic coordinates are: 0.42943, 42.715401. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • 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
    17

Sources (3) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • 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
    17

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM348

Incident date

July 17, 2022

Location

Labi-Kus, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.355928, 42.546960 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

An AFRICOM declared US airstrike in coordination with Somali Army commandos resulted in the death of up to five Al-Shabab fighters near Labi-Kus village on July 17, 2022.

Somali National News Agency (SONNA), a Somali government-run news agency, tweeted that “three #Alshabab terrorists were killed and one was captured after Somali National Army’s commandos (#DANAB) attacked a roadblock which terrorists used to extort money from the local people near Labi-Kus village under #Kismayo town , on Sunday “. Graphic images accompanying the tweet show the bodies of two alleged members of Al-Shabab.

A tweet from Somali National Television (@sntvnews1) reported that two Al-Shabab fighters were killed in action in the vicinity of the Jubba River Valley and no civilians were killed, adding that the operation was carried out by the Somali National Army’s Danab brigade. Shabelle Media Network tweeted that five militants were killed and one was captured alive, and that at least four assault rifles and a PKM machine gun were also seized in the operation. Somaliweyn added that that intelligence that led to the operation was based on the movement of the weapons they seized.

Horseed Media specified that the Somali Forces that were involved was the the 5th Division, 16th Battalion and that a statement issued by the Danab military command said that they killed “least 5 members of Al-Shabaab, including the officer in charge of the area”. According to Kulmiye News Network, one of the militants killed was the “leader of Al-Shabaab in charge of financial affairs in this area, whose name was shortened to Ismail”.

AFRICOM released a statement on July18th stating 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 Libikus, Somalia July 17, 2022…The command’s initial assessment is that two al-Shabaab terrorists were killed in action and that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.” However, none of the reporting prior to the press release mention US involvement, with many sources, including the Somali government-run news agency (SONNA), indicating that Somali forces were responsible.

This was the second incident declared by AFRICOM since US President Joe Biden ordered the redeployment of troops to Somalia in May.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Labi-Kus, allegedly located within the vicinity of Kismayo city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Kismayo are: -0.355928, 42.546960.

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 injured
    2–5

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic image of the body of an alleged Al-Shabab member killed during a US and Somali operation in Lab-Kus village on July 17, 2022. (Image posted by @SONNALIVE)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic image of the body of an alleged Al-Shabab member killed during a US and Somali operation in Lab-Kus village on July 17, 2022. (Image posted by @SONNALIVE)
  • Image of what may the goods seized during the UUS and Somali operation against an Al-Shabab roadblock in Labi-Kus on July 17, 2022. (Image posted by @SONNALIVE)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

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 Libikus, Somalia July 17, 2022.
U.S. forces are authorized to conduct strikes in defense of designated partner forces.
The command’s initial assessment is that two al-Shabaab terrorists were killed in action and that no civilians were injured or killed given the remote nature of where this engagement occurred.
The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command 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 Somali, regional and U.S. interests.

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 injured
    2–5

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM380

Incident date

February 28, 2023

Location

Buurweyn, Hiiraan, Somalia

Geolocation

3.591953, 45.552965 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

More than 10 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by Somalia government forces and international partners in the Burweyn area of Hiraan region on February 28, 2023.

A tweet from @HSNQ_NISA, the National Intelligence & Security Agency (NISA) of Somalia, announced that “more than” 10 [al-Shabaab members] including leaders were killed in an army operation by NISA with the help of international partners in the Burweyn area of Hiraan region.

@RashidMohamedK2 added that the high value target of the raid was Ibnu Bashir, a senior al-Shabaab member.

There were no other details available as to who was involved in the operation and the resulting casualties.

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 at approximately 4:00 pm local time.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Buurweyn, for which the generic coordinates are: 3.591953, 45.552965. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

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 attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Statement from Somali government on operation carried out February 28th, 2023.

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 attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM415

Incident date

January 24, 2024

Location

Remorse area in the vicinity of Caad, Mudug, Somalia

Airwars assessment

On the 24th of January, 2024, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab in a remote area near the town of Caad in the Mudug region of eastern Somalia. AFRICOM stated that six Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the strike and assessed that no civilians were injured or killed.

AFRICOM released a statement on the 26th of January announcing that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense airstrike with three engagements against the al Shabaab terrorist group on Jan. 24. The strike occurred in a remote area in the vicinity of Caad, Somalia. The initial assessment is that the U.S. airstrike killed six al Shabaab terrorists and that no civilians were injured or killed.”

On the 26th of January, Jeff Seldin, national security correspondent for VOA News (Voice of America) posted a brief statement regarding the strike using X/Twitter, however the post only contained the basic details contained in the AFRICOM public statement, namely the location of the strike, the number of militants allegedly killed, and the assessment that there had been no civilian casualties. These details were similarly reported by Garowe Online in a tweet dated the 27th of January.

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
    6

Sources (5) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

Federal Government of Somalia, AFRICOM target al Shabaab

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense airstrike with three engagements against the al Shabaab terrorist group on Jan. 24.

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense airstrike with three engagements against the al Shabaab terrorist group on Jan. 24.

The strike occurred in a remote area in the vicinity of Caad, Somalia.

The initial assessment is that the U.S. airstrike killed six al Shabaab terrorists and that no civilians were injured or killed.

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

Al Shabaab is the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world and has proved both its will and capability to attack U.S. forces and threaten U.S. security interests. U.S. Africa Command, alongside its partners, continues to take action to prevent this malicious terrorist group from planning and conducting attacks on civilians.

Somalia remains key to the security environment in East Africa. U.S. Africa Command's forces will continue training, advising, and equipping partner forces to give them the tools that they need to degrade al Shabaab.

U.S. Africa Command, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, with partners, counters malign actors and transnational threats, responds to crises, and strengthens security forces in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability and prosperity.

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
    6

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM023-C

Incident date

April 17, 2012

Location

Gumah, Bari, Somalia

Geolocation

10.88443, 51.11405 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

“Unknown military jets fired several missiles” at a suspected Somali pirate base in the northern autonomous region of Puntland a coastguard official told AFP. The target was the village of Gumah, described as being between Hafun and Bargal towns and some 220 kilometres (140 miles) east of Bossaso, the main port of Somalia’s breakaway Puntland state.

At least two civilians were reported injured, whom RBC Radio described as fishermen.

The air strike came near midnight and was apparently unprecedented as it targeted pirates, not al Shabaab. Muse Jama, an elder, told AFP that the two aircraft that attacked his village “came from the sea.”

Which nation the aircraft belong to is unknown. The European Union’s anti-piracy operation had been authorised to launch strikes on Somali coastal territory. But a spokesperson told AFP the EU was “not involved whatsoever” in the strike and refused to comment on who was. Both NATO and the US were also conducting anti-piracy operations at the time, though neither was known to have deployed airstrikes.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in a coastal village called Gumah, 220 kilometres east of the port city Bosaso in Puntland. This likely refers to a village that also goes by the name Gumbax, for which the coordinates are: 10.88443, 51.11405. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The coastal village Gumbax, 220 kilometres east of Bosaso (220 km radius marked in red)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, EU Military
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

EU Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    EU Military
  • EU Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, EU Military
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM067

Incident date

December 5–6, 2016

Location

Omar Beere/Ibrahim Ali Berre camp near Tortoroow, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.25045, 44.69117 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Two media organisations reported a possible US air operation targeting an al Shabaab base in the Lower Shabelle region.

Dalsan Radio reported that Somali commandos backed by US Special Forces had attacked al Shabaab bases in Omar Berre in Lower Shabelle overnight using helicopters. It also quoted what it said was an eyewitness: “‘We heard several blasts on the outskirts of Omar beere location near Tooratoorow overnight. We can’t confirm how many people died in the attacks,’ said local resident Hussein Mohamed.”

Shabelle Media Network said that fighter jets believed to be US military conducted an air strike targeting a base. Sources told the network that helicopters were also used to target al Shabaab’s Ibrahim Ali Berre camp. it added that “Reliable sources tell Radio Shabelle that several Al shabaab foreign commanders were nabbed in a ground military operation at Ibrahim Ali Berre near Tararow district after the airstrike.”

The US said at the time that they had not conducted an operation in the area. A spokesperson from AFRICOM told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism however that over the night/morning of December 5th-6th, the Somali National Army had conducted a mission to disrupt al Shabaab, killing one alleged fighter. US forces were working with the Somali army as advisors, the spokesperson added.

The incident occured during the night.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Omar Beere or Ibrahim Ali Berre camp, near the village of Tortoroow/Torato. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of the camp. However, the generic coordinates for the village of Tortoroow/Torato are: 2.25045, 44.69117.

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
    US Forces, Somali Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (3) [ collapse]

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
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Somali Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM103

Incident date

November 13, 2017

Location

Awhiigle, Gaduud, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.0741815, 42.5719168 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

The sixth declared US strike in five days hit Somalia, targeting al Shabaab fighters, the US military told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

An Africa Command spokesperson said the attack occurred at 0840 near Gaduud about 250 miles southwest of Mogadishu. As of November 15th, the US was still “assessing the results of the strike”.

The spokesperson said: “During a Somali-led counterterrorism operation, a group of armed al Shabaab terrorists posed an imminent threat to Somali-led and US forces, a threat which the Somali’s and their partners were unable to mitigate. In response, the US conducted a self-defence strike against the armed militant group to neutralise the threat.”

The spokesperson for Somalia’s security ministry told Voice of America that the strike hit in the town of Awhiigle. “It is part of an ongoing efforts [sic] to target the militant hideouts and bases, from where they organise attacks against our people,” he said. “The government and its partners are still assessing the results.”

The incident occured at approximately 8:40 am local time.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Awhiigle, near the town of Gaduud. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of Awhiigle. However, the generic coordinates for the town of Gaduud are: -0.0741815, 42.5719168.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • 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

Sources (4) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

Via email:

"I can confirm that during a Somali-led counterterrorism operation, a group of armed al-Shabaab terrorists posed an imminent threat to Somali-led and U.S. forces, a threat which the Somali's and their partners were unable to mitigate. In response, the U.S. conducted a self-defense strike against the armed militant group to neutralize the threat.

The strike occurred at approximately 8:40 a.m., Monday, Nov. 13, near Gaduud, about 250 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

We are currently assessing the results of the strike."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • 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

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM135-C

Incident date

July 22–27, 2018

Location

Marka, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.716269, 44.769753 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A strike reportedly hit a village outside Marka, a city around 60 miles south of Mogadishu, according to a field investigation by a reporter for The Nation. There were no reports of immediate civilian harm, though a man reportedly died of a heart attack following the violence.

Airwars has placed this event in a date range from July 22nd-27th 2019, reflecting limits to current reporting.

Khadija Hassan Ali, a mother of three, spoke to the reporter Amanda Sperber: “Ali said that her husband, Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan, died in late July from what she believes was a heart attack after night-time strikes hit her village amid fighting between Al Shabab and government-led militias. She is certain of the timing because, in Somali culture, a wife formally mourns for four months and 10 days after the death of her husband, so she had the dates in mind when I talked with her in late November.”

The only strike that US Africa Command claim to have conducted in late July was around 50 kilometres north of Kismayo on July 23rd – which Airwars has recorded separately. However as Sperber notes, Kismayo is over 400km away from Marka.

According to the article, an international human rights organisation additionally leaked a document to the reporter that indicated a strike occurred on July 25th in Qalimow, but this is about 95 miles away from Ali’s home. This event also has its own entry.

The US was thought to be the only country conducting airstrikes in this region of Somalia at the time. Sperber suggests that the strike may not match AFRICOM’s records because it could potentially be a CIA strike.

The incident occured during the night.

The victims were named as:

Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan
Age unknown male Died of a heart attack following reported "night time strikes hit [the] village amid fighting between al Shabaab and government-led militias." killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in a strike outside of the city Marka. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to locate the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for the city of Marka are: 1.716269, 44.769753.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Accidents related to conflict, 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]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Accidents related to conflict, 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]