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

USSOM021-C

Incident date

January 21, 2012

Location

Kismayo, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

-0.355651, 42.545703 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In this single-source claim, six people were allegedly killed as an airstrike carried out by US or Kenyan forces, struck near the al Shabaab stronghold of Kismayo, Sheikh Mohamud Abdi, a senior al-Shabaab commander, claimed to Reuters.

It is not known whether the strike was by US or Kenyan forces. Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October amid concerns that Somalia’s 21-year-old civil war was spilling over the countries’ border.

The combatant status of the claimed six victims is unknown. The original source for this allegation is also not presently recoverable.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the city of Kismayo, for which the coordinates are: -0.355651, 42.545703. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 6
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (1) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 6
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM006-C

Incident date

March 3, 2008

Location

Dhoobley, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.411429, 41.008691 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Up to six civilians were killed and as many as eight wounded as the US fired at least one and as many as three cruise missiles at Dhobley, a town in southern Somalia four miles from the Kenyan border, local and international sources reported.

Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told AFP: “On March 2, the US conducted an attack against a known al Qaeda terrorist in southern Somalia.”

The Long War Journal reported the strike targeted Ras Kamboni Brigades leader Hassan Turki and al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. He was a member of al Qaeda’s ruling Shura Council and reportedly controlled the group’s East Africa cells. The US had put a $25m bounty on his head. Despite anonymous officials claiming it was a cruise missile strike, an Islamist spokesperson and locals said the town was bombed and civilian targets hit in an attack carried out by a US AC-130 gunship. As Monsters and Critics reported: “‘I woke up to loud blasts and flashing lights that shook my doors and windows. Airplanes were flying at a low altitude and were firing. I ran outside and hid under trees,’ said Saed Abdulle, an elder in Dobley, which is just north of the border with Kenya.”

There were conflicting reports of casualties in the strike. A local elder, Abdullahi Sheikh Duale, said four civilians were killed. Meanwhile, witnesses said at least six people were killed in the strike.

Regarding the number of wounded, a police officer told AP that eight people were injured. However, Dhobley residents told the New York Times three civilians were wounded in the attack that partly destroyed a house. The only fatalities were three cows and a donkey, they said.

Official US sources indicated that several al Qaeda members were killed in the attack, possibly including Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, as noted by the Washington Post.

The incident occured at 03:30:00 local time.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that two houses in the town of Dhoobley (4 miles from the Kenyan border) were targeted and that witnesses/neighbours fled under tree cover. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. However, the coordinates for the town Dhoobley are: 0.411429, 41.008691.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–8
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • A cruise missile of the type likely fired by US forces on Dhobley, March 3, 2008 (via AFP)
  • Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was wanted by the FBI in connection with two attacks in 2002. Image via Kenyan Police

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

AFP, March 3rd, 2008:

"The US military fired at least one cruise missile into southern Somalia near the Kenyan border, targeting an Al-Qaeda leader believed to be hiding there, a US military official said Monday.
"On March 2, the US conducted an attack against a known Al-Qaeda terrorist in southern Somalia," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in Washington.
Whitman would provide no details on the type of attack, the identity of the target, or the outcome.
But another military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least one cruise missile, and possibly more, was launched at the target in southern Somalia.
"They're still trying to assess the damage, the effectiveness," the official said, but did not elaborate on how the assessment was being carried out."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 6
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–8
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in East Africa
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM029-C

Incident date

November 1–30, 2013

Location

جيليب, Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.494527, 42.777868 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Five children from a single family were killed in the town of Jilib, in Somalia’s Middle Juba region, when their house was razed by aerial bombardment from an unknown belligerent (possibly Kenya), according to residents interviewed by the group Journalists for Justice.

According to the report, “A third set of strikes took place a few weeks later in November 2013, according to the residents. Around 1pm jets razed five (5) homes. In one house five (5) children from the same family were killed, two interviewees said. At another open farming area on the edge of Jilib town, one herder was injured.”

As of now, no further details are available, and the exact date of the event in November is unclear. Based on its known presence in the general area, the presumed target of the attack was al Shabaab.

The incident occured at approximately 1:00 pm local time.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted five homes as well as a farming area on the edge of the town Jilib. The coordinates for the town of Jilib are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM031-C

Incident date

June 1–30, 2014

Location

Farigow, 3 km west of Jilib, Middle Jubba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.496059, 42.749613 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between one and five civilians, including women and children, were killed as the Farigow leper colony near Jilib, Middle Jubba was struck by unknown warplanes, international media reported.

A woman living near the settlement told the Kenyan group Journalists for Justice that the colony was struck by jets by “mid 2014”, killing one person and injuring another three. “Farigow is a settlement of leprosy victims near Jilib. A woman living near there said it was attacked by jets in mid-2014. Three adults were injured and one killed, she reported to JFJ.”

Journalists for Justice said the attack was the same one described by the UN in its Somalia Monitoring Group report for 2014, which stated: “On 20 May 2014, for example, a village at Faragurow, 3 kilometers west of Jilib town in Middle Jubba, was attacked by fighter jets. Some reports claimed that among the dead were ‘2 women, 2 children and an old man.'”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a settlement of leprosy victims called Farigow or Faragurow, 3 kilometers west of the town Jilib. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of Farigow. The coordinates for the area 3 kilometers west of the town Jilib are: 0.496059, 42.749613.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 5
  • (1–2 children1–2 women0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • 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, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US 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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 5
  • (1–2 children1–2 women0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • 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, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM127-C

Incident date

May 9–10, 2018

Location

Bulcida Macalinka (northeast), Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.090326, 44.990577 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Five civilians were reportedly killed in a US and/or Somali-waged ground operation – possibly also involving airpower – in the Lower Shabelle region, local and international media reported. The US denied allegations of harm on several occasions.

The raid was reportedly carried out by Somalia commandos, with the US saying American troops supported the mission in an “advise and assist” capacity. Additionally, three local al Shabaab members were captured.

The raid took place in or near the village of Ma’alinka in the Lower Shabelle region. While a Somali intelligence official said the site targeted was a “key hideout and coordination centre” of al Shabaab, relatives and locals said it was a banana farm.

Reports soon surfaced of as many as five civilians being killed in the raid, who were allegedly shot dead. Ali Mohamed Moalin, an elder from the area, said “two military helicopters” were involved as well as “some foreign special forces”. “There are five dead bodies of innocent farmers who have been killed by the special forces last night,” said Moalin.

Associated Press noted: “People who described themselves as relatives of the people killed in Wednesday’s raid expressed bewilderment. “They were not armed nor were they al-Shabab members,” said Ibrahim Ahmed, who said he was a family member of one man killed. I don’t understand why a farm would make a target for a raid,” he added, pointing at one of the bloodied bodies that had been laid out on the ground outside a hospital in the capital, Mogadishu.”

Goobjoog reported that one person was critically injured and five civilian farmers killed. “The bodies of five people who were killed in a Somali and foreign forces operation in the outskirts of Afgooye, town some 40 kilometres south west of Mogadishu were transported to Mogadishu Thursday. The five bodies were first taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters before they were moved to Medina Hospital. Goobjoog News correspondent Ali Mumin reporting from the hospital said one person who was critically injured was taken to Digfer Hospital for specialised treatment.”

The Daily Beast published a detailed account of the attack, highlighting the complexity surrounding US military activity in Somalia. “Five locals were injured by the Somali commandos and at some point during a firefight with people whose identities no one could agree upon, five local people were killed,” journalist Christina Goldbaum wrote.

Soon after the incident, the Somali government denied the allegations of civilian casualties. US Africa Command said it would review information on the raid but announced in June 2018 that after a “thorough” review the allegations had been deemed “not credible”.

Moreover, three others, reportedly local al Shabaab members, were said to have been captured in the raid, as reported by AP News.

The US said the raid took place near Bulcida, which is on the outskirts of Afgoye. APF also placed the attack near Afgoye. The Daily Beast and Garowe Online said the raid occurred in Ma’alinka village near Bariire, which was also the site of a deadly raid in August 2017. Bariire is close to Afgoye.

In July 2019, US investigative reporter Nick Turse obtained a declassified AFRICOM report on recent civilian harm assessments, which added significant additional knowledge on the event. While accepting that five people were killed and one wounded by ‘partner forces’, the assessment “suggest[s] that the individuals killed and wounded in the raid were al-Shabaab fighters.”

In August 2021, AFRICOM published what it said was a reassessment of the event after receiving a complaint via its reporting portal – though once again determined that no civilian harm had taken place: “(Unsubstantiated) May 31, 2021, U.S. Africa Command received one (1) report via the U.S. Africa Command civilian casualty reporting website claiming five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a joint Somali-U.S. military operation, occurring on May 9, 2018, in the vicinity of Moalinka, Somalia. This is a duplicate of civilian casualty reports U.S. Africa Command received in May 2018 in which an assessment was opened and determined that U.S. military action did not result in any casualties. Additionally, multiple sources of post-operation intelligence confirmed that any partner force action resulted in casualties only to al-Shabaab members, including one al-Shabaab commander.”

The incident occured at 01:00:00 local time.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the raid targeted a farm and houses near a borehole, in the northeast of a village called Ma’alinka. Another source mentions that the raid took place in the vicinity of Bulcida, near the town Afgoye. Northwest of Afgoye is a village called Bulcida Macalinka, for which the coordinates are: 2.0887147, 44.9833057. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we weren’t able to verify the precise location of the strike, however, the coordinates for the northeast area of the village are: 2.090326, 44.990577.

The victims were named as:

Abdirahman Abdi
Adult male Nightwatchman. One bullet grazed the left side of his head, and four others hit his right shoulder and forearm injured
Abdi Dahir
Adult male Shot in thigh injured
Teenage boy
Age unknown male injured
Teenage girl
Age unknown female injured
Mohamed Hashi Nur
Adult male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Cause of injury / death
    Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attackers
    US Forces, Somali Military Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Up to five civilians died in the event. Original photo caption: "Three local al Shabaab members were seized in a joint US-Somali raid on March 9th, 2018 in Lower Shabelle (via AP News)"
  • Abdirahman Abdi was wounded in the alleged US strike in Lower Shabelle, May 9th, 2018 . Here, he is photographed after being released from Digfeer Hospital in Mogadishu (via The Daily Beast)
  • al-Shabaab members in a mosque in Mombassa, Kenya in February 2014, photographed by Laban Walloga (via The Daily Beast)
  • Bodies of five civilians, according to the pro-Shabaab site Shabkadda Amiirnur

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    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
  • Stated location
    IVO Moalinka, Somalia
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Jun 8, 2018
  • Jul 1, 2019
  • Aug 20, 2021
  • (Unsubstantiated) May 31, 2021, U.S. Africa Command received one (1) report via the U.S. Africa Command civilian casualty reporting website claiming five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a joint Somali-U.S. military operation, occurring on May 9, 2018, in the vicinity of Moalinka, Somalia. This is a duplicate of civilian casualty reports U.S. Africa Command received in May 2018 in which an assessment was opened and determined that U.S. military action did not result in any casualties. Additionally, multiple sources of post-operation intelligence confirmed that any partner force action resulted in casualties only to al-Shabaab members, including one al-Shabaab commander.

  • A detailed assessment was revealed in a FOIA response to journalist Nick Turse in July 2019: CIVCAS allegation brought to USAFRICOM's attention on 12 May 2018. The location and timing of the allegation corresponds to the geographic location of a known operation, but the number and characterization of those killed varied. The allegation did not contain information or images that correlated to this incident. NOT/ NOT CREDIBLE: The assessment determined that during the course of the operation, the partner force engaged several individuals with small arms fire after these individuals maneuvred against their position from a point of concealment. The assessment concluded that five individuals were killed and one was wounded as a result of partner force fire. While on-site sensitive exploitation was not posssible, post-operation classified reporting and detainee questioning suggest that individuals killed and wounded in the raid were al-Shabaab fighters.

  • "In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab's terrorist network near Bulcida, Somalia, May 9, 2018, as previously released. Following reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, U.S. Africa Command performed a thorough review and determined the allegations of civilian casualties to be not credible. As with any allegation of civilian casualties, U.S. Africa Command reviewed all available relevant information concerning the incident."

Original strike reports

US Forces

"U.S. forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab's terrorist network near Bulcida, Somalia, May 9."

Somali Military Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Cause of injury / death
    Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attackers
    US Forces, Somali Military Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM108-C

Incident date

December 6, 2017

Location

130 km southwest of Mogadishu, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.0702, 44.4207 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between five and seven civilians, including two children, were killed when a vehicle carrying suspected al Shabaab fighters exploded in their village, after being hit by what is thought to have been a US airstrike – though US Africa Command deny any strikes in the area on this date.

The explosion reportedly injured a further two civilians, including an 18 month old girl. Reuters reported an eyewitness as saying that all seven casualties were in fact  killed.

In a Guardian article published in January 2018, there were reports of civilian casualties from a strike on December 6th. It reported that a five-year-old girl, a 17-year-old girl and three men were killed.

Mohamed Abdullahi, a resident of Illimey village, which is about 80 miles south-west of Mogadishu, told the Guardian: “Farmers had gathered at a tea shop … when the drone begun to fly over … Some of the victims were passing on the road while some were inside drinking their afternoon tea. Five died on the spot. They are not killing al-Shabaab. They are killing civilians,” he said.

Two additional casualties were confirmed by hospital officials according to the newspaper. They said an 18-month-old girl and a 23-year-old man had been brought with shrapnel injuries.

According to Amnesty International’s research, whilst al Shabaab controlled the area of Illimey, they did not have much of a presence in the area and didn’t tend to visit very often. The NGO spoke to five eyewitnesses about an unfamiliar truck, thought potentially to be driven by al Shabaab fighters, being present in the town on that day and which was later blown up.

One witness told Amnesty the men wanted water in order to take ablution (wash) before praying. Another said that a suspected Al-Shabaab fighter got out of the truck and put a gun to the head of Osman Hussein Osman, a 45-year-old camel herder from the village. “They stopped him with a gun and made him put his water in the cooler of the car.” Jibril, a farmer who was in the village told Amnesty International. Then, moments later, a projectile hit the truck, witnesses explained. “There was dust everywhere and smoke and bodies of humans and animals,” said Jibril.

The explosion destroyed the vehicle and killed all of the suspected al Shabaab fightters inside of it, Amnesty reported.

Despite having looked at satellite imagery and conduction on the ground investigations, Amnesty said it could not be 100% sure that a US air strike had caused the explosion – though said that it is the most plausible answer.

US Africa Command deny conducting a strike on this day. Their response to Amnesty’s allegation of civilian harm read as follows: “AFRICOM did not conduct a strike at this location. Additional information provided by […] Amnesty International indicated that the strike in question involved secondary explosions. On 11 December 2017, one week after the alleged incident, AFRICOM did strike a VBIED approximately 35 miles from this location but no secondary explosions were observed.”

Despite AFRICOM’s statement, local officials insisted a strike had in fact  taken place – indicating either a possible Kenyan or CIA action. A local government official said that a strike had hit a car being used by al Shabaab fighters to “transport supplies to a squad preparing bomb” in Ilimey village, about 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.”

“The strike hit the car … but we do not know details of casualties,” Ali Nur, deputy governor of Somalia’s lower Shabelle region, told Reuters – which also said it was not clear who had carried out the strike. The Kenyan military had conducted multiple strikes in Somalia, but these had tended to be closer to the Somali-Kenyan border.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Amnesty research points to the exact location of this incident at Illimey village: 2.0702, 44.4207.

  • Via Amnesty: Imagery from 3 December 2017 shows a small junction in Lower Shabelle approximately 100 km west of Mogadishu. The road passes through a small village with approximately 10 structures.

  • Via Amnesty: Imagery from 9 December 2017 shows debris from the destruction of most and possibly all of the structures. A diversion in the road along with apparent debris, suggests the explosion site is along the old road. The furthest structure visibly destroyed was situated 60 metres from the probable explosion site.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

Osman Hussein Osman
45 years old male Camel herder, father killed
Fadumo Osman Hussein
7 years old female Daughter killed
Fartun Osman Hussein
1 years old female Daughter. Struck in head by shrapnel injured

Family members (2)

Maalim Abdow Fillow Mudey
45 years old male Teacher, father killed
Amina Abdow Fillow Mudey
17 years old female Daughter killed

The victims were named as:

Abdow Mohamed Aliyow Boor
30 years old male camel herder killed
Mohamed Hussein Abdi
36 years old male Struck by debris, causing him to lose all sight in one eye injured

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 7
  • (2 children3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the December 6th event in his graphic novellla for Amnesty International

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    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

US Forces
  • Mar 11, 2019
  • AFRICOM did not conduct a strike at this location. Additional information provided by […] Amnesty International indicated that the strike in question involved secondary explosions. On 11 December 2017, one week after the alleged incident, AFRICOM did strike a VBIED approximately 35 miles from this location but no secondary explosions were observed.

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
    5 – 7
  • (2 children3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM035-C

Incident date

January 31, 2015

Location

Diinsoor, Bay, Somalia

Geolocation

2.40735, 42.976551 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At least four civilian casualties were reported injured or killed in a confirmed US attack on Dinsooor, though it was not clear if they were injured or killed. JSOC had targeted and killed Yusef Dheeqm, al Shabaab’s head of external operations in the drone strike.

Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed in two separate Pentagon press conferences that the US had carried out the attack and had killed a senior al Shabaab figure. The first, on February 3rd, confirmed the attack was a US operation. Kirby then declared that the US had killed its target in a second press conference on February 10th. This was the third consecutive US drone strike in Somalia to kill a senior al Shabaab figure to follow a split confirmation format – with a first briefing confirming a strike, and a second confirming the death of an al Shabaab target.

Kirby said US Special Forces had killed Yusef Dheeq and one associate. When confirming the attack, Kirby said Dheeq was targeted “with Hellfire missiles fired from UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]”. Kirby described Dheeq as al Shabaab’s “intelligence and security chief, and director of external planning”. However he said that if Dheeq “no longer draws breath,” the US military considered the strike to be a success. The strike “goes to show how long our reach can be when it comes to counter terrorism,” he added.

Before Kirby’s statement, an unnamed official told the Washington Post that Dheeq was killed while riding in a vehicle with other alleged al Shabaab members. It was not clear how many others were killed, the official added. Ahmed Adan, a Bay region official, told Anadolu Agency: “Several al Shabaab militants and a top leader have been killed in the airstrike.” The strike killed five according to an Africaine de Presse report.

Local resident Ali Yare told AFP there had been four civilian casualties in the strike. The civilians were injured he said: however it was not clear if they had died of their injuries: “We heard a very loud explosion and a few minutes later I saw cars rushing to the scene, some of them returned with casualties. Four civilians were among the casualties… We don’t know who was the target because the area was sealed off.”

See also a US confirmed strike declared for February 2nd 2014 at Dinsoor, which may in fact be this event.

The incident occured during the night.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy heading to an al Shabaab training camp near the town Diinsoor. 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 town of Diinsoor are: 2.40735, 42.976551.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • (0–4 undetermined)
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Pentagon press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, confirming to reporters on February 3rd 2014 a US drone strike three days earlier, in Somalia (Image via DoD)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

Stars and Stripes, February 10th, 2015:

"WASHINGTON — Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. military killed a senior leader of the al-Shabab militant group last month.
Last week, Kirby told reporters that a Jan. 31 American drone strike targeted Yusuf Dheeq, the head of external operations for the al-Qaida affiliated organization, which is based in Somalia. As of last week, officials were still trying to determine whether the strike was successful."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 4
  • (0–4 undetermined)
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM123-C

Incident date

April 1, 2018

Location

Ceel Buur, Galmudug, Somalia

Geolocation

4.621699, 46.454628 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Up to four civilians, including one child and one woman, were killed along with up to five al Shabaab fighters as a US airstrike struck El Burr, Galmudug, international media reported. Following a year of denials, US Africa Command admitted in April 2019 that civilians had in fact died in the event – and that the US Congress had been misled.

The event marked the first time in twelve years of military actions in Somalia that AFRICOM had publicly conceded civilian harm.

US Africa Command’s initial statement asserted that “U.S. Forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab militants near El Burr, Somalia, the afternoon of April 1, killing five (5) terrorists and destroying one (1) vehicle. We assess no civilians were killed in this airstrike.”

However, civilian harm allegations were later confirmed by US Africa Command following sharp questioning by Congress, and a major report by Amnesty International alleging civilian harm from US actions in Somalia. Its Director of Operations told reporters in 2019 that elements of AFRICOM had in fact  known of the civilian harm for a year: “The command received an allegation of civilian casualties at the time, but determined that it was not credible.

“About a week later, an ‘AFRICOM subordinate unit conducting counterterrorism operation in Somalia’ received new information, Olson said, which prompted the team to open up its investigation. That investigation concluded that the strike 12 months ago had actually killed the woman and child along with four al-Shabab militants. AFRICOM said it was only informed of the new information, investigation, and discovery of civilian casualties last week, after the commander of AFRICOM, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, launched an audit of all U.S. airstrikes in Somalia since 2017.”

As Defense Post noted: “The error was compounded when senior leaders said during congressional testimony that U.S. forces had caused zero civilian casualties in Africa. Africom commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser had ordered a review of airstrikes conducted in Somalia since 2017 “due to a recent increase in airstrikes and continued interest by Amnesty International and Congress on civilian casualties,” the release said.”

AFRICOM issued a public statement on April 5th 2019 which said: “On March 30, 2019, the command was notified about the results of a post-strike internal assessment conducted in April 2018 that found credible evidence of the two civilian casualties. Unfortunately, the finding was not properly reported to U.S. Africa Command headquarters.

“Because of the reporting error, U.S. Africa Command was not informed of the assessment’s conclusion-and subsequently the information was not reported to external authorities, such as the host nation and Congress. Consequently, on April 2, 2018, U.S. Africa Command stated in a press release based on an initial post-strike intelligence review the strike killed five al-Shabaab terrorists, and that the command assessed “no civilians were killed in this airstrike.” Unaware of the subsequent assessment and findings, senior leaders later stated during congressional testimony and media engagements that U.S. forces caused zero civilian casualties in Africa. U.S. Africa Command is committed to transparency in its reporting of civilian casualties. While believed to be an isolated occurrence, the reporting error is being addressed.”

Reporting at the time of the incident had included some mention of civilian casualties.

An al Shabaab statement reported by local media said two prominent local elders, Ali Hared and Yusuf Dhegay, were killed. VOA described Dhegay as a poet, but that “[Somali] Government officials said Dhegey used his poems to incite violence and help al-Shabab recruit.”

All Africa also reported the death of a woman, but it was unclear if she had been included in the al Shabaab statement. The news site however said the strike took place on April 2nd, not April 1st.

The New Arab said that pro-al Shabaab media outlets reported two civilian deaths, referencing senior commanders of the group. Sources in the area also told All Africa that a drone fired a missile which hit a convoy carrying civilians, but no additional details were given.

Two Somali intelligence officials meanwhile told AP that the strike hit a vehicle carrying senior al Shabaab officials and that the dead included a woman.

After reaching out for clarification, US Africa Command confirmed to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2019 that a woman and a child were killed in the strike, as was initially reported by the BBC.

The strike, according to All Africa, took place in Da’ar, an al Shabaab controlled area around 20 kilometres from El Burr. El Burr is in the semi-autonomous region of Galmudug. In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  again confirmed it had struck on this date what it says were “al Shabaab Fighters”, in the vicinity of El Burr, Somalia.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy in Da’ar area, about 20 kilometers west of the town El Bur (or Ceel Buur). Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for Ceel Buur are: 4.685184, 46.619229. The village located exactly 20 kilometers west of the town is called Dab Xarar, for which the coordinates are: 4.621699, 46.454628. This could refer to the Da’ar area mentioned in the reports.

  • The village Dab Xarar located 20 kilometers west of Ceel Buur/El Bur (radius of 20 kilometers marked in red)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

The victims were named as:

Ali Hared
Adult male killed
Yusuf Dhegay
Adult male killed
Unnamed
Adult female killed
Unnamed
Child killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (1 child1 woman2 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (25) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Somalia, March 26th 2019

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    Killed by strike blast
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    Near el Burr, Somalia
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Aug 1, 2019
  • Apr 5, 2019
  • During a commander-directed review of airstrikes conducted in Somalia since 2017, U.S. Africa Command learned an April 1, 2018 airstrike killed two civilians. The commander, U.S. Africa Command directed the review due to a recent increase in airstrikes and continued interest by Amnesty International and Congress on civilian casualties. "Credibility, transparency, and accountability are fundamental to military operations," said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command. "It is critically important that people understand we adhere to exacting standards and when we fall short, we acknowledge shortcomings and take appropriate action." The April 2018 airstrike was designed to degrade the al-Shabaab terrorist group near El Burr, Somalia. In the airstrike four al-Shabaab militants also were killed. The airstrike was not one of the allegations presented by Amnesty International in its March 2019 report. On March 30, 2019, the command was notified about the results of a post-strike internal assessment conducted in April 2018 that found credible evidence of the two civilian casualties. Unfortunately, the finding was not properly reported to U.S. Africa Command headquarters. Because of the reporting error, U.S. Africa Command was not informed of the assessment's conclusion-and subsequently the information was not reported to external authorities, such as the host nation and Congress. Consequently, on April 2, 2018, U.S. Africa Command stated in a press release based on an initial post-strike intelligence review the strike killed five al-Shabaab terrorists, and that the command assessed "no civilians were killed in this airstrike.” Unaware of the subsequent assessment and findings, senior leaders later stated during congressional testimony and media engagements that U.S. forces caused zero civilian casualties in Africa. U.S. Africa Command is committed to transparency in its reporting of civilian casualties. While believed to be an isolated occurrence, the reporting error is being addressed. The Federal Government of Somalia was notified of this newly learned information, and U.S. Africa Command remains in close coordination with our partners. U.S. Africa Command takes prudent measures to minimize civilian casualties and fully complies with the Law of Armed Conflict. The Command has processes in place to ensure the safety and protection of the local population remains a top priority. "Airstrike assessments are a critical and continuous component of operations," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. "Trust and credibility are central to our operations. If an innocent loss of life occurs, we are committed to being transparent and learning from this regrettable incident to prevent future occurrences." The command has executed 28 airstrikes in Somalia in 2019, compared to 47 in 2018 and 35 in 2017.

  • A declassified AFRICOM document earlier made the following determination: "Multiple CIVCAS allegations of a U.S. strike that took place on 1 April 2018. The time frame and geographic location coincide with a known strike, however, the number and type of casualties are inconsistent with confirmed BDA [Battle Damage Assessment]. NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: Intelligence sources indicate that all occupants of the vehicle were adult males. Two al-Shabaab mid- to high-level leaders were killed in the strike."

Original strike reports

US Forces

U.S. Conducts Airstrike in Support of the Federal Government of Somalia

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab militants near El Burr, Somalia, the afternoon of April 1, killing five (5) terrorists and destroying one (1) vehicle.

We assess no civilians were killed in this airstrike.

U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting terrorists, their training camps, and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (1 child1 woman2 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5

Sources (25) [ collapse]