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
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type
Air

Incident Code

USSOM099-C

Incident date

November 10–11, 2017

Location

2km north of Baasra, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.329050, 45.265357 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab at approximately 8pm local Somalia time killing “several” fighters, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said. It was also alleged by local officials that three civilians had died.

The strike hit the Lower Shabelle region. A Somali military official told Voice of America the strike, which they said was carried out by a drone, hit fighters in the region’s Basra village, located 30 kilometres north of Mogadishu.

A local Somali official said that three civilians had been killed in the strike, though the spokesperson for the security ministry dismissed the allegation as al Shabaab propaganda, Voice of America reported. An AFRICOM spokesperson later told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that this allegation had been assessed by them to be non credible.

AFRICOM officials said at least 13 fighters were killed in this attack. This and the four additional strikes between November 9th and November 12th killed “more than 40 terrorists,” a Pentagon spokesperson told reporters on November 13th. He did not say how many people were killed in which of the five strikes, “for operational reasons,” an AFRICOM spokesperson told the Bureau on November 15th 2017.

In July 2019, US investigative reporter Nick Turse obtained a FOIA response from AFRICOM which offered significant detail on the civilian casualty assessment (see below). Deeming the attack ‘NOT CREDIBLE’, the assessment claimed that “The targeted group was maneuvring, and openly displaying weapons, in an area approximately 2.5km north of the closest town, Basra.”

Amnesty International has also examined this case, noting the following in March 2019: “On 10 November 2017, the US conducted at least three air strikes in and around Baladul-Rahma and Geeshaan. In an email to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, AFRICOM confirmed it conducted a strike in the Lower Shabelle region. It did not provide details of casualties “for operational reasons”, however news reports at the time indicate three civilians were amongst those killed. According to records obtained
by Amnesty International, a total of 10 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, three Griffin missiles, and two GBU-69/Bs were fired by the US Air Force in Somalia between 10-17 November 2017.”

A senior Amnesty researcher later told Airwars that “The info on the Nov 10/11 strikes did come from interviews with local villagers, and it should line up both with the Bureau’s data and a lot of other news reporting – a fairly major operation happened in the general ‘Basra’ area at that time, but we weren’t able to name exactly which civilians died from air strikes and which died from ground ops.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM confirmed it had struck what it says were al Shabaab fighters, north of Baasra, on this date.

The incident occured at approximately 8:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–13

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • CGTN Africa Live report on US strikes in Somalia, November 13th 2017

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place 2 kilometers north of the village Baasra. The coordinates for this area are: 2.329050, 45.265357. Amnesty reported that the US ‘conducted at least three airstrikes in and around Baladul Rahma and Geeshaan’ on this date. These two villages are within very near vicinity of Baasra: the coordinates for Baladul Rahma are: 2.296128, 45.264368; the coordinates for Geeshaan are: 2.297905, 45.273261.

  • The villages Baasra, Baladul Rahma and Geeshaan, and the area 2 km north of Baasra

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    2.5km north of Basra
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Jul 1, 2019
  • [FOIA assessment obtained by US investigative reporter Nick Turse] On 25 JUN 18, New America reporter, David Sterman, contacted USAFRICQM PAO to inquire about a CIVCAS allegation concerning a strike IVO Basra, Somalia on 10NQV17. The allegation was featured in a single Voice of America (VOA) news report on 15NOV17. Voice of America indicated that "...A local official told VOA that three civilians were among at least 13 people killed on Saturday when drone-fired missiles targeted militants in the Basra village..." but that "...a Security Ministry spokesman denied the reported civilians death, dismissing it as al-Shabaab propaganda." NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: The targeted group was maneuvering, and openly displaying weapons, in an open area approximately 2.5 km north of the closest town, Basra, Somalia. The targeted group was observed massing approximately 2 km from the friendly force location. The strike occurred in the context of an assisted, partner force operation in the area where partner forces came under fire from hostile forces over a period of six hours. USAFRICOM is only aware of the allegations arising in one media report/allegation, and cite only one, unnamed villager. The VOA article itself indicates the Somali government Security Ministry separately assessed no civilians were killed.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Via email:

"U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia against al-Shabaab on Friday, Nov. 10 at approximately 8 p.m. local Somalia time, killing several militants. The operation occurred in the Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia, about 20 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–13

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM101-C

Incident date

November 12, 2017

Location

Southeast of Darusalaam, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.9072, 44.7978 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (via Airwars)

Airwars assessment

A US strike on al Shabaab fighters in the Lower Shabelle region also killed three civilians, Amnesty International later reported.

Two US strikes took place in Somalia on November 12th, with one targeting al Shabaab and the other hitting Islamic State fighters, according to US Africa Command. The strikes killed “several fighters”, it said.

The first attack hit at around 0300 local time killing “several terrorists” according to AFRICOM, while the second action is included in a separate report for this date.

SomaliMemo published graphic photographs later that day which it said were of three farmers (though Amnesty later said the bodies had been moved and staged by al Shabaab.)

In a March 2019 investigation into civilian harm in Somalia by Amnesty International, it was reported that three local farmers, Ibrahim Siid Wehelow (20 years old), Hassan Meyow Abkey (40 years old) and Ahmed Jeylani Sheekhow (26 years old) were killed when a strike targeted them as they were sleeping under a tree.

The men reportedly finished work at 2am, were too tired to walk and were waiting underneath the tree for a ferry the next morning to take them back from their farm to their homes on the other side of the Shabelle river.

Amnesty notes: “As the three men camped out at the side of the road, without warning a single air strike was launched at them at around 3am. A detonation shook the area, killing the three men and sending farmers to cover. Residents of both Mubarak and Darusalaam told Amnesty International that they were woken by the explosion. “I saw the heavy splashing light and then the big noise came, and I fell down,” said Liban, a farmer who was working nearby.

“I was frightened and then I tried to gather what happened and I tried to call [Ibrahim, Ahmed and Hassan] and it said “unavailable”…Then, in the morning the people went to see what happened and to our surprise we found they had died. The noise of the plane was louder than before,” Liban continued,

“The weeks before it used to come and leave, only that night it was not leaving. It was coming and coming and coming… when the noise [of an airstrike] happened everything ceased…I was so frightened. I couldn’t keep watch on the farm at all. I went under the shelter of the tree and hid…These three young men were not expecting to be killed by a plane, and we did not expect the world to be silent.”

Witnesses described to Amnesty how al Shabaab came the next morning and rearranged the bodies, staging them for photos that they published online. The photos meant that Amnesty could geolocate the strike to a farm road 2 km southeast of Darusalaam.

Hassan Meyow Abkey was a local expert in fixing smartphones according to locals that Amnesty witnessed, leading some to believe that they were targeted because he was fixing an al Shabaab phone and the US were using signals intelligence (SIGINT).

From all of their available information, Amnesty assessed that all three of the men were civilians. In response to Amnesty International’s allegations, US Africa Command replied that the three men were instead members of al Shabaab:

“AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting al-Shabaab fighters. The Shahada News Agency, an al-Shabaab media outlet, alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event and supported the claim using staged photos. AFRCOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment and determined that the three men described in the allegation were not sleeping at the time of the strike and were members of al-Shabaab.”

The incident occured at approximately 3:00 am local time.

  • Ibrahim Siid Wehelow 20 years old male Farmer killed
  • Hassan Meyow Abkey 40 years old male Farmer killed
  • Ahmed Jeylani Sheekhow 26 years old male Farmer killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (11) [ collapse]

  • Via Amnesty: Scrap from the GBU-69/B, including the distinctive mesh tail fins in the crater. © SOMALIMEMO
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged body of a reported civilian farmer killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged body of a reported civilian farmer killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • Munition fragments from a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • Munition fragment from a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged bodies of reported civilian farmers killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Staged bodies of reported civilian farmers killed by a US strike on November 12th 2017 (via SomaliMemo)
  • CGTN Africa Live report of November 13th 2017 on recent US strikes in Somalia
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the November 12th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the November 12th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the November 12th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Field investigation by Amnesty points to the exact location of the strike at these coordinates: 1.907188, 44.797862. From Amnesty International: “At first light, villagers from Darusalaam and Mubarak reached the bodies. Witnesses described to Amnesty International the horrific injuries they were confronted with, and said they covered the bodies in white shrouds, in preparation for burial. Soon after, Al-Shabaab fighters arrived, removed the shrouds, and rearranged the bodies, staging them for photographs, that they later posted on social media and on SomaliMemo, a pro-Al-Shabaab website. While in these photographs the bodies appear to have been moved and as such the images do not present an accurate depiction of the scene immediately after the blast, they do confirm several important factors. First, they reveal the location of the air strike. Using digital verification techniques, Amnesty International researchers were able to use indicators from the landscape to precisely geolocate the crater to 1.9072 North, 44.7978 East, a farm road 2 km southeast of Darusalaam. This location also aligns with witness testimony.

  • Geolocation of strike by Amnesty International, march 2019

  • Geolocation of strike by Amnesty International, march 2019

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Mar 1, 2019
  • AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting al-Shabaab fighters. The Shahada News Agency, an al-Shabaab media outlet, alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event and supported the claim using staged photos. AFRCOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment and determined that the three men described in the allegation were not sleeping at the time of the strike and were members of al-Shabaab.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Via email:
"U.S. forces conducted two separate airstrikes against al-Shabaab and ISIS, in Somalia on Nov. 12, killing several terrorists. The first strike occurred at approximately 3 a.m. local Somalia time against al-Shabaab in the Lower Shabelle Region about 40 miles west of the capital Mogadishu.
The second separate strike occurred at approximately 9 a.m. local Somalia time against ISIS in Puntland."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM138-C

Incident date

August 2, 2018

Location

Gobanle (Gobaale), Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

3.123005, 44.775008 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were reportedly killed in a US strike in Gobanle village, according to Amnesty International – though US Africa Command claimed that only four “terrorists” were killed.

However an AFRICOM declassified assessment of the event published in July 2019 indicated that the US itself was unaware of the identities of those in the vehicle – most likely having used pattern of life before attacking.

A BBC Somalia report on the same day as the strike said locals had said civilians were among those killed in the targeted vehicle. Mogadishu Update tweeted the following: “BREAKING: At least three civilians including well-known businessman identified as Abdi Samad Hassan and one of #Hormuud telecommunication company Engineers killed in an Air strike carried out suspected #US drones near Goobaale village in #Somalia’s L/Shabelle region.”

In March 2019 Amnesty International released a report on civilian harm in Somalia that detailed this event.

The three civilians were driving in a rural area 1km outside of Gonable village when the strike hit their vehicle. Some of the eyewitnesses that Amnesty spoke to said that there was one al Shabaab member in the vehicle that may have been the target of the strike. Amnesty identified the three civilian fatalities by name and age, as listed below.

A senior Lower Shabelle official also confirmed to Amnesty that three civilians were killed in an air strike near Gobanle. “I don’t know why they were hit, but maybe it was a mistake. The US are making a lot of mistakes in this region,” he said.

One witness eyewitness, Ibrahim, described the strike to Amnesty: “When they were away from us we saw a plane circling over them and they went under a tree” Ibrahim, a witness said. The aircraft disappeared from sight but returned shortly afterwards. The vehicle was then hit by an air strike, destroying it completely. “When the plane left they drove away in the vehicle, but the plane came back and hit them when they were in the open. We went there and took them. The four of them died there,”

In a statement, US Africa Command said that they conducted a strike on this day 74 miles northwest of Mogadishu, that killed four “terrorists”. They assessed that no civilian casualties had resulted from the strike.

Witnesses to the attack told Amnesty International that the three civilian victims were not armed and were not members of Al-Shabaab. “They had a shovel and a hammer but no weapons,” one witness said.

In response to Amnesty’s allegations of civilian harm, US Africa Command said:

“AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting individuals who were members of al-Shabaab. The pro-al-Shabaab media outlet, Somaliamemo.net alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event. AFRICOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment and determined that the allegation was not credible based on the unreliability of the source and the fact that the individuals targeted were members of al-Shabaab.”

Separately, US investigative reporter Nick Turse obtained a declassified AFRICOM assessment of the event, also published in July 2019. This strongly indicated that the US did not in fact know the identities of three of those killed in the vehicle, noting only that “Several circumstantial factors indicate that the three adult males in the vehicle were associated with al-Shabaab: The three individuals alleged to be civilians were located in a known al-Shabaab stronghold and accompanying a known al-Shabaab leader and no well digging activity or equipment was observed during target development.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  confirmed it had struck on this date what it says was an “al Shabaab named objective”, in the vicinity of Gobanle, Somalia.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

  • Abdisamad Sheikh Issack Mohamed 35 years old male worked for Hormuud Telecommunications Company killed
  • Adan Hassan Yarow (aka “Adan Dubbe”) 58 years old male married, father of nine killed
  • Abdi Nurow Adan 58 years old male father of nine killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the August 2nd event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International

Geolocation notes

Amnesty investigation reports that the strike targeted a vehicle at 1 kilometer east of the village of Gobanle (or Gobaale). The coordinates for the village of Gobanle are: 3.12222, 44.76507; and the coordinates for the area 1 kilometer east of the village are: 3.123005, 44.775008.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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 Gobanie
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Aug 28, 2018
  • The initial allegation of CIVCAS was identified in a pro al- Shabaab news website, Somaliamemo.net. The allegation indicated that the three adult males in the vehicle with the objective were civilians. Further, it identified these individuals by name alleging that one was a noted local businessman with the Hormuud Telecom Company. The online article indicated that the other two adult males were well diggers and were engaged in digging a well. NOT/NOT CREDIBLE: Intelligence sources identified two of the four adult males in the vehicle were assessed as armed. The lethal strike was conducted in open, low collateral damage terrain while the four adult males were traveling in a vehicle. None of the individuals observed during target development were observed digging a well as reported by Somaliamemo.net. Several circumstantial factors indicate that the three adult males in the vehicle were associated with al-Shabaab: The three individuals alleged to be civilians were located in a known ai-Shabaab stronghold and accompanying a known al-Shabaab leader and no well digging activity or equipment was observed during target development.

Unknown

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants approximately 74 miles northwest of Mogadishu, Somalia, on August 2, killing four (4) terrorists.

We currently assess no civilians were injured or 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
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM066-C

Incident date

September 28, 2016

Location

Jehdin, 30 km east of Galkayo, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

6.753766, 47.699407 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

A US  drone strike on September 28th killed at least ten members of a local friendly militia and not al Shabaab militants as the US had initially believed, according to local communities and an investigation by the Washington Post. Between three and 16 additional members of the Galmadug militia were injured.

At least one source, Al Jazeera, reported that the Somali government believed that 22 “soldiers and civilians” had been killed in strikes against northern Somalia. Others said that all of the up to 22 people killed were friendly forces.

According to the Washington Post, which published its investigation on November 10th 2016, “On Sept. 28, Puntland security forces were sent to investigate a ‘suspicious group,’ thought to be al-Shabab based on American surveillance imagery, according to the U.S. official. American forces accompanied the patrol as advisers, until they neared the unknown group. It was early in the morning, and visibility was limited when Puntland forces ‘started taking fire,’ said the U.S. official. They asked for air support, and the U.S. military launched the drone strike.

“Shortly after the attack, officials in Galmadug began accusing the United States of killing its own allies. They released images of government vehicles destroyed by the strike. There were protests in the streets. People burned American flags. In interviews with The Washington Post in a hospital in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, two survivors of the strike who belonged to the Galmadug forces described the way it had hammered their unit. ‘Small aircraft, sounding like flies, started hovering over us,’ said one survivor, Ali Adan Mohamed. ‘At about six in the morning the airstrike started, the aircraft fired three missiles. I believed that the U.S. was neutral, but now it seems to me that they have sided with one of two clans,’ he said.

“When Galmadug state officials heard what happened, they were furious with the Americans. ‘There is not any justification that could lead to such disaster,’ Minister Osman Ise Nur, the head of Galmadug’s security operations, said in a phone interview. ‘We were amazed with what has happened to our forces despite the fact that they were fighting al-Shabab.’

At first AFRICOM claimed to have killed al Shabaab fighers in the action, reporting that it had conducted a “self-defence strike” in Galcayo resulting in the deaths of nine alleged al Shabaab fighters. Somali forces were disrupting an IED making network when they were attacked by a group of al Shabaab fighters, it said. The US intervened to “neutralize the threat”.

Concerns were raised almost immediately, though AFRICOM initially denied it had erred. It told the Bureau in an email on September 29th: “We have seen reports alleging non-combatant casualties as a result of this defensive strike. We have assessed all credible evidence and determined those reports are incorrect.”

However, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the next day that the US would in fact investigate the reports. US Africa Command then confirmed in an email to the Bureau that a formal assessment had been initiated.

On November 15th AFRICOM issued a revised statement, asserting: “A group of armed fighters attacked a PSF-led patrol in early daylight. PSF forces returned fire in self-defense, but were unable to subdue the attack or withdraw without suffering casualties,” read the statement. US forces conducted a strike “at the request of PSF forces and based on their own assessment of the situation”.

The new press release added: “U.S. forces lawfully and appropriately used force to defend the PSF element in response to the attack by the local militia forces against that U.S.-partner force.”

Somali officials claimed that the US killed a total of 22 local soldiers and civilians. Galmudug region’s Security Minister Osman Issa blamed intelligence forces in the Puntland region for giving the US incorrect information. The two regions had clashed on a number of occasions.

Somalia’s government then requested an explanation from the US. A government statement read: “The cabinet requests the US government give a clear explanation about the attack its planes carried out on the Galmudug forces.”

According to the Washington Post, the US ambassador to Somalia met with the president of Galmudug and local officials who claim an apology was given. The US has never publicly confirmed this. The US Mission to Somalia did however issue a press release on October 11th which said the ambassador had met with Somali officials in Mogadishu.

The press release added that the US “seeks to improve its communication and collaboration with Galmudug security forces and the Somali National Army to fight al-Shabaab”.

The incident occured at 6:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 12
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al-Shabaab, Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–22
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3–16

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (30) [ collapse]

  • Demonstrations against a US strike which killed up to 22 friendly US soldiers on September 28th 2016
  • Aftermath of a US strike on friendly forces in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Aftermath of a US strike on friendly forces in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Aftermath of a US strike on friendly forces in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Aftermath of a US strike on friendly forces in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Aftermath of a US strike on friendly forces in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Aftermath of a US strike on friendly forces in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Bodies of friendly forces killed in a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Bodies of friendly forces killed in a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Bodies of friendly forces killed in a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Protests against a a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces arrive at hospital (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces arrive at hospital (via Somalia News Room)
  • Injured survivors of a US strike in Somalia on September 28th 2016 which killed up to 22 friendly forces arrive at hospital (via Somalia News Room)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a base at Jehdin village, 30 kilometres east of the town Galkayo (6.771437, 47.42839). Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location of Jehdin village. The coordinates for the area 30 kilometres east of Galkayo are: 6.753766, 47.699407.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known 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 Completes Assessment on Galcayo Strike
U.S. Africa Command press release
By U.S. AFRICA COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, United States Africa CommandNov 15, 2016

On September 28, U.S. forces conducted a self-defense strike in Galcayo, Somalia, in support of a partner force, an element of the Puntland Security Forces (PSF), conducting counter-terrorism operations.
A group of armed fighters attacked a PSF-led patrol in early daylight. PSF forces returned fire in self-defense, but were unable to subdue the attack or withdraw without suffering casualties. At the request of PSF forces and based on their own assessment of the situation, U.S. forces conducted a strike to neutralize the threat to the PSF element, killing 10 armed fighters and wounding 3 others.
On October 4, U.S. Africa Command directed that an assessment be conducted to review the circumstances surrounding the strike and to evaluate if there were any civilian casualties as a result. The assessment reached the following conclusions:
Sufficient evidence was presented to conclude no civilian casualties were caused by the September 28 strike.
The armed fighters who attacked the PSF patrol at the time were believe to be part of al-Shabaab, but with further review it was determined they were local militia forces.
U.S. forces lawfully and appropriately used force to defend the PSF element in response to the attack by the local militia forces against that U.S.-partner force.
No U.S. forces were killed or injured as a result of this incident.
It is important to note that the United States is working with the government of Somalia, and our AMISOM partners, to counter the terrorist group al-Shabaab. This is a group that has killed and terrorized civilians, police, and military units across Somalia and its neighboring countries.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 12
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al-Shabaab, Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–22
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3–16

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM118-C

Incident date

February 21, 2018

Location

Bangeeni, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.04072, 42.729703 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Up to five people, including two reported civilians, were killed in a US military airstrike that hit in the vicinity of Jamaame, in Somalia’s Lower Juba region, international media reported.

According to a US Africa Command press release, a US strike on al Shabaab killed four members of the group.

VOA reporter Khadar Hared tweeted that two civilians were believed to be among the dead, killed in an airstrike at “Bangeeni village located about 8 km west of Jamame.”

A Somali government official also told VOA Somali that the strike killed five militants: “I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by US drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground.”

However the VOA report also said that “Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.”

US Africa Command later assessed that no civilians killed in the strike, noting: “NOT/ NOT CREDIBLE: Classified evidence captured at the scene proves story was incorrect,” according to a declassified assessment obtained by US investigative journalist Nick Mercer in 2019.

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  confirmed it had struck that day what it says were “al-Shabaab Fighters”, in the vicinity of Kobon, Somalia.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Jamaame (0.06978, 42.748066). A subsequent FOIA response pointed to the nearby village of Kobon, for which the coordinates are: 0.03586, 42.704521. However, VOA reporter Khadar Hared tweeted that the strike took place in “Bangeeni village, located about 8 km west of Jamame.” The coordinates for Bangeeni are: 0.04072, 42.729703. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The town Bangeeni between the Kobon and Jamaame

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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
    Jamaame
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Aug 1, 2019
  • NOT/ NOT CREDIBLE: Classified evidence captured at the scene proves story was incorrect,

Original strike reports

United States Armed 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 on Feb. 21, in the vicinity of Jamaame, Somalia, killing four (4) terrorists.

We assess no civilians were killed in this strike.

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.

Together with other international partners, the United States is committed to providing Somalia, AMISOM and SNSF with support in the fight against violent extremist organizations.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM095-C

Incident date

October 16, 2017

Location

Farah Waeys, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.9922, 44.861 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike near Bariire on October 16th was confirmed by the US military. However, numerous allegations of civilian harm by international media have been denied.

Whilst US Africa Command did not initially publish a press release regarding this strike, they confirmed to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at the time that they carried out a strike against al Shabaab at 16:30 local time. A spokesperson said the operation occurred in southern Somalia, about 35 miles southwest of Mogadishu.

The Guardian published an article in January 2018 detailing recent strikes in Somalia that had seen allegations of civilian casualties. One took place on an unspecified day in October. US officials had confirmed a single strike 35 miles southwest of Mogadishu. Local sources told the Guardian that eight civilians in the village of Awdhegle had been injured. An elder from the village said said that three women, a child and four men were transported to a hospital in Mogadishu after their house was hit.“They were herders and farmers, not al-Shabaab ,” the elder said. A doctor at the hospital told the Guardian two men and a woman injured in an airstrike between Awdhegle and Barire were treated.

In March 2019, Amnesty International published a major report on civilian harm in Somalia that detailed this incident. Their report claimed that a US armed drone twice targeted a suspected al Shabaab vehicle travelling between Awdheegle and Bariire – two al Shabaab controlled towns. The attacks reportedly killed two nearby civilians and injured five others, including two children, alongside an unknown number of al Shaabab fighters.

Amnesty spoke to eyewitnesses who told them that the first strike missed the vehicle and struck the eastern bank of the road next to some makeshift homes in a settlement. This strike allegedly killed Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Yusuf Hussein, a 25 year old farmer. A second munition was then fired that struck the vehicle as it was continuing to the north of the settlement.

Bashir, who fled the attack, told Amnesty that he returned to find Sheikh Ahmed dying in his home – just 20 steps away from where the munition had struck – as shrapnel had gone right through him.

Amnesty also named Siidow Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan, a 40 year old farmer as being fatally injured in the attack – he was reportedly taken to Sudan for further treatment before he died a few days later.

A further five civilians were injured in the drone strike, including the eight year old son of Siidow, Mohamed Siidow Abdullahi, and a six year old boy named Khalif Adow Osman.

The NGO added that “According to records obtained by Amnesty International, a total of 12 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and two GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II laser-guided bombs were dropped by the US Air Force in Somalia on this day. Those weapons were fired from MQ-9 Reaper drones, based in Djibouti. Two Hellfire missiles were most likely used in this attack, based on the types and extent of damage and injuries, and that a munition with a powered rocket-motor is more-often used to strike a moving vehicle.”

US Africa Command denied that any civilians were harmed in response to Amnesty’s allegations:

“AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting a vehicle containing al-Shabaab fighters. Social media posts alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event. AFRICOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment regarding this strike and determined it is not likely to have caused the civilian casualties. Information gathered before and after the strike indicated that all individuals injured or killed were members or affiliates of al-Shabaab.”

It said it still assessed that the strike resulted in “three enemy wounded in action and one vehicle destroyed”.

Responding to the AFRICOM statements, Amnesty noted: “The fact that the vehicle and those in it were the apparent targets would support the assertions that those killed or injured beside the road were civilians uninvolved in the conflict. The burden is on the US military to explain why they do not count these individuals, including children, who were not the intended targets but nevertheless were killed and injured, as civilian casualties.

Amnesty International’s evidence above establishes that contrary to AFRICOM’s assessment, civilians were killed during the attack in Farah Waeys. The evidence also suggests that the US failed to take necessary precautions to ensure that their objective – which in this case appears have been a truck of Al-Shabaab members – was targeted at the appropriate time and with sufficient precision to minimize the likelihood of damage to civilians and civilian objects. Since the targeted vehicle was travelling along the road between Awdheegle and Barire and the vast majority of the area adjacent to the road that runs between the two towns is uninhabited, this raises questions as to why the US military attacked when civilians were in the immediate vicinity, when it appears to have had opportunities to do so in locations where no civilians would be at risk. If feasible precautions were taken civilians may have been spared.

“Given the glaring failure to take feasible precautions to spare civilians, the attack may have been indiscriminate and the fatalities and injuries, and damage caused, unlawful. Indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians can constitute war crimes. The US authorities should ensure an independent, impartial investigation is conducted into this attack.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM said it had struck what it says were al Shabaab fighters, in the vicinity of Mubaraak.

The incident occured at 4:30 pm local time.

  • Siidow Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan 40 years old male killed
  • Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Yusuf Hussein 25 years old male killed
  • Mohamed Siidow Abdullahi 8 years old male injured
  • Khalif Adow Osman 6 years old male injured

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5–8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International
  • Cartoonist Mike Dawson featured the October 16th event in a graphic novella for Amnesty International

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a vehicle between Awdheegle and Bariire. According to Amnesty research the coordinates for the location of the strike are: 1.9922, 44.861, in the village Farah Waeys.

  • Geolocational imagery released by Amnesty, March 2019

    Imagery:
    Amnesty International

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm, Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Nov 1, 2018
  • AFRICOM conducted a precision-guided strike that corresponds to the time and location alleged, targeting a vehicle containing al-Shabaab fighters. Social media posts alleged CIVCAS shortly after the event. AFRICOM conducted a CIVCAS allegation assessment regarding this strike and determined it is not likely to have caused the civilian casualties. Information gathered before and after the strike indicated that all individuals injured or killed were members or affiliates of al-Shabaab.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Via email:
"(...) in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia against al-Shabaab on Mon., Oct. 16 at approximately 4:30 p.m. local Somalia time.

We are currently assessing the results of the strike.

The operation occurred in southern Somalia, about 35 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5–8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM194-C

Incident date

February 11, 2019

Location

Tuwaareey, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An official also provided the following responses:

“1) Were US ground forces present as alleged?

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

2) Did US ground forces engage in kinetic actions?

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

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

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

An OCCRP investigation later looked into the collection of ISR: “On February 1 and 5, 2019, a contractor-owned Gulfstream jet flew repeatedly over a small area in Lower Shabelle, about 30 kilometers west of Mogadishu. It returned to the area on March 9. The plane had a particular flight pattern — near-perfect circles — and was likely collecting data with its specialized sensors, according to experts on the subject.

On February 6 and 11, and again on March 11, U.S. airstrikes hit areas the plane apparently surveyed.”

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

The victims were named as:

Family members (6)

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

Summary

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

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted civilian homes in the vicinity of the village Tuwaareey (or Tuaarey), close to the town Janaale. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for the village Tuwaareey are: 1.89512, 44.76052.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible / 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

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

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM195-C

Incident date

February 23, 2019

Location

حرمك, Kunya Barrow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.798211, 43.385648 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (via Airwars)

Airwars assessment

A father and young child were reported killed in a US airstrike on the al Shabaab-occupied town of Kunyo Barrow. AFRICOM later admitted the deaths of two civilians along with three injuries in the event in its first quarterly civilian harm report of April 2020.

US Africa Command first reported on February 24th 2019 that a day earlier it had conducted four actions in Somalia, including “Two airstrikes (…) in the vicinity of Kunyow Barrow.”

According to local reports, the four strikes targeted Da’araha; Kunya Barrow (where two civilians died and at least two more were injured, it was reported); the vicinity of Janaale and Qoryoley (where one additional adult female civilian was said to have died); and Awdhegle. The Da’araha action appears to be the second event cited by AFRICOM for that day near Kunya Barrow.

AFRICOM initially stated that “it is assessed these airstrikes killed two terrorists” and the Bureau of Investigative journalism confirmed through email with AFRICOM that they were killed during the two strikes in the vicinity of Kunyow Barrow. The official statement added that “At this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.”

Mareeg nevertheless reported on February 24th that two civilians, including one “20 day old child” and the child’s father, had in fact been killed in airstrikes carried out in “rebel-held areas of Da’araha, Janaale, Kunya Barow,  Awdhegle”. The article stated that “it is unclear who carried out the raid,” and gave no further details on which of the four strikes had harmed civilians.

Horn News – which published graphic photographs released by al Shabaab – said the two had died during a strike on Kunyo Barrow town itself. SomaliMemo described the victims as “a two-year-old boy and a Quran school teacher.”

Mogadishu update tweeted four images it said had been released by al Shabaab, including one showing a woman and child reportedly injured in the attack. It also said the fatal victims were father and son.

When approached by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for clarification, AFRICOM first said that it still assessed that no civilian harm had occurred as a result of this strike, stating: “US Africa Command is aware the article alleging civilian casualties resulting from the February 23, 2019 airstrikes in Kunyow Barrow, Awdeegle, and Janaale, Somalia.

“As with any allegation of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties. If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, USAFRICOM will then determine the next appropriate step. USAFRICOM complies with the law of armed conflict and takes all feasible precautions during the targeting process to minimize civilian casualties and other collateral damage.
At this time, we still assess no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.”

In September 2019, TRT World Research Centre alleged that a woman was also killed that night in another US strike, in the vicinity of Janaale and Qoryoley villlages.

Each of the four confirmed US strikes on this date has been assigned a separate incident report by Airwars.

In autumn 2019, US investigative journalist Nick Turse obtained via FOIA a declassified document listing recent locally-alleged civilian harm from US actions, which AFRICOM was reviewing. The second entry notes for the date February 23rd 2019 that “[redacted source] alleges that U.S. airstrikes were responsible for civilian casualties… Outcome PENDING.”

In January 2020, Airwars submitted to AFRICOM a comprehensive dossier on this civilian casualty event, including a precise geolocate. Three months later in its first quarterly civilian casualty report, US Africa Command conceded the incident, noting that “AFRICOM received a follow-on allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After thorough review, several of the allegations were assessed to be substantiated. Regrettably, two (2) civilians were likely and unintentionally killed and three (3) injured as a result of the airstrike. It is assessed the deaths and injuries occurred due to the effects of U.S. munitions or secondary explosions caused by explosives stored by al-Shabaab at the location of the strike.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Quranic teacher Adult male killed
  • Child of teacher 1 years old male 20 months old killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 child1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (13) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic photograph of a 20-month old baby, killed in a reported US airstrike on Kunyo Barrow on February 24th 2019 (via Horn News)
  • Damage, reportedly at Kunyo Barrow, following a US airstrike on February 24th 2019 (via Horn News)
  • A father and child reportedly killed at Kunyo Barrow, February 23rd 2019, by a US airstrike (via Mareeg)
  • A woman and child reportedly injured at Kunyo Barrow, February 23rd 2019, by a US airstrike (Mareeg via al Shabaab)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (Image via Al Shabaab propaganda)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (Image via Al Shabaab propaganda)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

  • Wrapped body of a child victim of a reported US strike on Kunyo Barrow, Somalia on February 23rd 2019 (Image via al Shabaab propaganda release)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a lethal US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (via Gundhig)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a lethal US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (via Gundhig)
  • Reported damage at Kunyo Barrow following a lethal US airstrike on February 23rd 2019 (via Gundhig)

Geolocation notes (3) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village Kunya Barrow (حرمك), for which the coordinates are: 0.7928186, 43.3841839. Images published by Al Shabaab show damage to a residential area in the vicinity of 4 radio towers. Based on these images we think that the strike took place in this area: 0.798211, 43.385648.

  • Original photo published by Al Shabaab with the radio towers and trees marked

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Location of these landmarks in a satellite image of Kunya Barrow, indicating the likely location of the strike impact in black

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Direction in which the photo was likely taken

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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 secondary explosion(s)
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    3
  • Stated location
    Vicinity of Kunyo Barrow
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • February 24, 2019, the command received allegations from online media sources claiming two (2) civilians were killed and two (2) civilians injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on February 23, 2019. The initial allegation claimed dozens were alleged to have been killed but only provided specific information regarding four alleged civilian casualties. AFRICOM received a follow-on allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, several of the allegations were assessed to be substantiated. Regrettably, two (2) civilians were likely and unintentionally killed and three (3) injured as a result of the airstrike.// Regarding the February 23, 2019 strike, we assess that it is likely that two civilians were regrettably and unintentionally killed and three were injured as a result of the airstrike that also killed two al-Shabaab terrorists who were the intended targets. “While we follow very precise and rigorous standards, in instances where we fail to meet our expectations, we will admit the mistake,” said Townsend. “Regrettably two civilians were killed and three others injured in a February 2019 airstrike. We have the highest respect for our Somali friends and we are deeply sorry this occurred.” On February 24, 2019, the command received allegations from online media sources claiming two (2) civilians were killed and two (2) civilians injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on February 23, 2019. An initial allegation claimed dozens were alleged to have been killed but only provided specific information regarding four alleged civilian casualties. AFRICOM received a follow-on allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After thorough review, several of the allegations were assessed to be substantiated. Regrettably, two (2) civilians were likely and unintentionally killed and three (3) injured as a result of the airstrike. It is assessed the deaths and injuries occurred due to the effects of U.S. munitions or secondary explosions caused by explosives stored by al-Shabaab at the location of the strike. The February 23, 2019, airstrike was designed to degrade the al-Shabaab terrorist group and the command’s assessment is that two terrorists, the intended targets, were also killed as a result of this airstrike. In adherence to established procedures, the command has notified the Federal Government of Somalia and appropriate U.S. authorities verifying the credibility of the allegations and the fact that two civilians were unintentionally killed and three were injured as a result of an airstrike.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In support of the Federal Government of Somalia's increased efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted four airstrikes on February 23, 2019.

"Somali-led operations continue to place pressure on the al-Shabaab network, creating conditions for enhanced stability and security," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, U.S. Africa Command director of operations. "In addition to creating enhanced security, airstrikes help to disrupt al-Shabaab operations and the network while preventing future attacks by this terrorist group."

Two airstrikes on February 23 occurred in the vicinity of Kunyow Barrow, Somalia, which is approximately 250 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu. One airstrike occurred in the vicinity of Awdeegle, Somalia, which is approximately 50 kilometers west of Mogadishu. One airstrike occurred in the vicinity of Janaale, Somalia, which is approximately 75 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu.

Airstrikes such as these complement our Somali partners’ successes against al-Shabaab, and are one component of our combined efforts to protect the Somali people from terrorism. Somali security forces continue to effectively target al-Shabaab forces in order to increase the span of governance of the Federal Government of Somalia.

These four airstrikes eliminated checkpoints and facilities used by al-Shabaab to collect illegal taxes to fund terrorist activities and to oppress the innocent people of Somalia.

"Degrading various facilities and checkpoints impacts al-Shabaab’s ability to finance operations, recruit, and execute operations," said Olson. "The Federal Government of Somalia continues to place persistent pressure on the network."

At this time, it is assessed these airstrikes killed two terrorists.

At this time, it is assessed no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 child1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (11) [ collapse]