US Forces in Somalia

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

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
Somalia
start date
end date
Civilian Harm Status
Belligerent Assessment
Declassified Documents
Strike Status
Strike Type
Infrastructure

Incident Code

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

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.

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • 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

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    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

US 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

US 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
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • 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

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.

The victims were named as:

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

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    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

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US 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

US 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)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–3

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM196

Incident date

February 23, 2019

Location

Awdeegle, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.977202, 44.833162 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

The Pentagon announced four airstrikes on February 23rd in a press release issued by US Africa Command. One of these airstrikes occurred in Awdeegle, 50 kilometres west of Mogadishu.

The press release read: “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,.”

AFRICOM assessed that no civilians were injured or killed in these strikes, but that two terrorists were. In an email, US Africa Command later told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that the two terrorists were killed in one of the airstrikes that hit Kunyow Barrow.

According to local reports, the four US strikes targeted Da’araha; Kunya Barrow (where two civilians died and at least two more were injured, it was locally 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.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Awdeegle, 50 kilometers west of Mogadishu. The coordinates for Awdeegle are: 1.977202, 44.833162. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Unknown
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US 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
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Unknown
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (10) [ 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

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 06:00:00 local time.

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.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 12
  • (0–22 undetermined)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known 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)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US 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
  • (0–22 undetermined)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known targets
    Al-Shabaab, Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–22
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3–16

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM197

Incident date

February 23, 2019

Location

Dacaraha, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.55556, 44.13643 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US airstrike targeted alleged al Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Dacaraha village, 50 km west of Mogadishu, a local source reported.

Publicly AFRICOM said it had conducted two strikes near Kunyo Barrow that day, with others at Janaale and Awdhegle. The other Kunyo barrow strike – which hit the town itself – reportedly killed a father and child and is documented in a separate event.

The Pentagon announced the four airstrikes on February 23rd in a press release from US Africa Command. “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,” the AFRICOM statement read. It also assessed that no civilians were injured or killed in these strikes, but that two terrorists were killed.

In an email to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US Africa Command later stated that the two terrorists were killed in the airstrike that hit Kunyow Barrow.

In September 2019, TRT World Research Centre published an investigation into the event. “A local media station, Gundhig reported in the morning of the attack on 24 February that the “air strike, which happened at midnight last night, targeted al-Shabaab operated areas, including Kuunya Barrow, Awdheegle, and the Dacaaraha village, which is near to Qoryoley and Janaale.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Janaale, near the village Dacaraha. The coordinates for Dacaraha are: 1.55556, 44.13643. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Unknown
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US 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
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Unknown
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM012-C

Incident date

July 6, 2011

Location

Afmadow, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.514539, 42.074264 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In this single-source allegation, an unknown number of people were reportedly killed or wounded in possible US strikes in Afmadow district, as reported by Somalia Report. The source did not mention whether the victims were combatants or civilians.

According to Somalia Report, US drones or planes reportedly hit three al Shabaab militant training camps in Afmadow. “‘Early in the morning and before the sunrise, we heard more than five heavy blasts not far from the town. We believe it was an airstrike,’ said a resident. ‘Minutes later, we saw three military vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed to Kismayo. We believe they were carrying victims of the attack.'”

However, then-Somalia Report editor Michael Logan told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism by email that it was simply not known if US drones were behind this attack. “This is one of those that cannot be confirmed as a drone. Lots of witnesses and a TFG official do confirm an attack, so some kind of strike took place (but as you know, there are a variety of actors capable of launching missiles),” he said.

Somali deputy defence minister Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig said at the time, while confirming that airstrikes had occurred, that: “The foreigners and senior officials of the terrorist group are afraid. They secretly hide amongst the civilians. The airstrikes will continue until we minimize the enemy from our country.” Dr. Omar Ahmed, an academic and Somali politician, told Somalia Report that such airstrikes would increase local support for al Shabaab: “There is no reason for the western countries to use airstrikes against al-Shabaab. It will only increase the generations supporting al Shabaab.”

The incident occured around dawn.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in Afmadoow, for which the generic coordinates are: 0.514539, 42.074264. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–3

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Original Somalia Report copy via Wayback

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1–3

Sources (1) [ 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

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.

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    Jamaame
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

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


In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab militants 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
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM016-C

Incident date

October 13, 2011

Location

10 km east of Taabta, Lower Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.305181, 41.440288 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In this single-source allegation, civilians were reported as possibly harmed following attacks on an al Shabaab base near Taabta village, Lower Juba, Somalia Report reported. It was not clear who was behind the actions.

Somalia Report reported that drones had targeted an al-Shabaab base used to train new fighters. Its source cited TFG military official Mohamed Hassan Bule as saying: “We are aware of the operations. It completes today’s operation on the group by the Somali National Forces. The airstrikes were carried out by drones from a friendly nation and destroyed a very important and large base ten kilometres east of Taabta. They used the base to train a misguided generation.”

Casualty numbers were unknown, though with some local sources reportedly saying that civilians were also “affected.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted an Al Shabab training camp 10 kilometers east of Taabta. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for Taabta are: 0.305181, 41.440288.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Original report archived via Wayback

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (1) [ collapse]