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

USSOM170

Incident date

December 15, 2018

Location

غندرشي, Gandarshe, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.8349369, 44.9668452 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

AFRICOM publicly reported four strikes on the same area on the same day – asserting that it had killed 34 al Shabaab militants in total in the vicinity of Gandarshe.  Another two strikes took place on December 16th, it said – killing another 28 militants.

“All six airstrikes were conducted in close coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and targeted a known al Shabaab encampment. U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,” a press release on the strikes stated.

AFRICOM assessed that no civilians were harmed during the strikes.

One of the four strikes was individually tweeted out by AFRICOM on the day, which it said had killed 8 fighters. The fatality range of this event has therefore been set to zero, and at zero one additional events that day, with 26 assigned to another – to avoid double counting. The actual numbers killed in each of the three untallied strikes is unknown.

Voice of America revealed additional information about the attacks: “U.S. military airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend destroyed a secret al-Shabab base close to the capital, Mogadishu, and killed at least 62 militants, including 10 middle-ranking commanders, according to Somali officials and intelligence sources. ‘The repeated strikes … targeted the al-Shabab base on a mountain area near Gendershe, where al-Shabab militants have been training new recruits and used to launch attacks against government soldiers and the African Union peacekeepers,’ said Abdifitah Haji Abdulle, deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region.

“A Somali intelligence official said the militants established the secret base about 53 kilometers south of Mogadishu because of its proximity to the capital and the port town of Marka. U.S. and Somali government forces have targeted other Shabab bases in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region for years, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘So, the militants decided to set up a new base … close to the Indian Ocean and Mogadishu to avoid the intelligence radar,’ the official told VOA’s Somali Service. Gendershe is a village on the coastal road linking the Somali capital to Marka.”

Associated Press offered a different perspective, indicating preventive measures against an imminent attack: “They were conducted with America’s ‘Somali partners to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as safe havens to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks,’ Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said, noting that no civilians had been killed or injured. ‘The strike has neutralized an imminent attack’ on a military base in the Lower Shabelle region, a Somali intelligence official told The Associated Press, adding that a camp and vehicles were hit.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM  confirmed it had separately targeted with three strikes on this date, what it says was an “al Shabaab encampment”, in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village of Gandarshe (غندرشي), for which the coordinates are: 1.8349369, 44.9668452. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Al-Shabaab Degraded by U.S., Federal Government of Somalia

To support the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted a total of four (4) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 15, 2018.
U.S. forces also conducted two (2) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 16, 2018.

We currently assess the airstrikes on December 15 killed thirty-four (34) militants.

We currently assess the airstrikes on December 16 killed twenty-eight (28) militants.

At this time we assess these airstrikes did not injure or kill any civilians.

All six (6) airstrikes were conducted in close coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and targeted a known al-Shabaab encampment. U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks.

Alongside our Somali and international partners, we are committed to preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia. In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from the African Union Mission to Somalia (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, 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
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM063

Incident date

September 5, 2016

Location

Tortoroow, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US reported two days after the event that it had conducted two “self-defence strikes” on September 5th against al Shabaab, killing four militants in total.

According to an AFRICOM press release, the strikes hit near Tortoroow and were conducted in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia after a Somali-led counter-terrorism operation came under attack.

Garowe Online offered a more detailed report based on its local sources: ” A Somali commando unit backed by US special forces have launched anti terror raid on Al Shabaab stronghold in Lower Shabelle region on Sunday night, killing senior militant commanders, Garowe Online reports. A local resident revealed to GO, that the allied forces have encountered a heavy resistance, which led to hours-long gunfight around the rebel-held Toratorow town, 120 km west of Somali capital, Mogadishu.

“Witnesses told GO that U.S. military used helicopters in the raid and dropped Somalia’s newly US-trained Danab soldiers on the outskirts of the town to hunt for the militants on foot. Sources confirmed the death of three high-ranking Al Shabaab commanders in the airstrike targeted on suspected hideouts of Al Shabaab leaders’ hideouts.”

Voice of America also reported on the incident – though referred only to the AFRICOM statement, noting that “‘During a Somali-led counterterrorism operation, a large group of armed al-Shabab fighters attacked the force, threatening the safety and security of the forces in the area,’ said Captain Jennifer Dyrcz, a U.S. Africa Command spokeswoman.”

Al Shabaab itself denied any casualties in the attack, according to VOA reporter Harun Maruf.

Airwars is treating these as separate events for this date. We have assigned one death to this incident only, to avoid double counting.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Tortoroow, for which the generic coordinates are: 2.25045, 44.69117. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

"On September 5, 2016, in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted two (2) self-defense strikes against al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-associated terrorist group, near Tortoroow, Somalia.

During a Somali-led counterterrorism operation, a large group of armed al-Shabaab fighters attacked the force, threatening the safety and security of the forces in the area. In response, the U.S. conducted two (2) self-defense strikes to neutralize the threat, killing four (4) al-Shabaab militants."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM279a

Incident date

February 21, 2020

Location

سااكوو, Saakow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

1.637795, 42.452829 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

In an event not publicly disclosed at the time, US Africa Command conducted a strike in the vicinity of Saakow on February 21st, which it later said “did not result in any terrorist deaths, injuries or damage to equipment and infrastructure. Nor did we assess any civilians were killed or injured.”

The strike came to light, along with two others, when Voice of America said in early March that it had been notified of 25 airstrikes to date in Somalia in 2020 – while official records showed only 23 declared strikes. In response to a query from Airwars, an official noted by email:

“The following strikes are missing from your list up to March 10, 2020:

February 1–IVO Jilib

Feb 3–IVO Jilib

Feb 21–IVO Saakow

The three strikes that occurred Feb. 1, 3, and 21 did not result in any terrorist deaths, injuries or damage to equipment and infrastructure. Nor did we assess any civilians were killed or injured. All three strikes were against the al-Shabaab violent extremist organization, to include terrorists or infrastructure. As a matter of policy, we do not discuss the specifics on targeting.”

No additional information is presently known about this event.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

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

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a strike on a compound in the vicinity of Saakow (سااكوو) town, for which due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.  The generic coordinates for Saakow are: 1.637795, 42.452829

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

[VIA email]
"The following strikes are missing from your list up to March 10, 2020:

        February 1--IVO Jilib

        Feb 3--IVO Jilib

        Feb 21--IVO Saakow

The three strikes that occurred Feb. 1, 3, and 21 did not result in any terrorist deaths, injuries or damage to equipment and infrastructure. Nor did we assess any civilians were killed or injured. All three strikes were against the al-Shabaab violent extremist organization, to include terrorists or infrastructure. As a matter of policy, we do not discuss the specifics on targeting."

Summary

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

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM318

Incident date

September 9, 2020

Location

Amreereey, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

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

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

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

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

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    17

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    17

Sources (3) [ collapse]