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

Incident Code

USSOM164

Incident date

November 30, 2018

Location

Geelway mountain, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

2.357851, 43.579698 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

AFRICOM reported that the previous day, it had “conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants near Lebede, Somalia on November 30, 2018”.

It said that there had been no civilian harm. However, AFRICOM claimed that the airstrike had killed “nine (9) militants”.

Voice of America reporter Harun Maruf provided a more detailed location. “Statement says strike location is near Lebed, but local sources say exact target is a mountain called Geelway. It’s the 37th strike by US in Somalia this year.”

In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM confirmed it had struck on this day what it says were “al Shabaab fighters”, in the vicinity Ledbe, 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    9

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted the Geelway mountain (or Buur Gal Waay) between Dinsor and Burhakaba. Africom stated that the strike took place in Lebede, of which the location is unclear. The coordinates of the Geelway mountain are: 2.357851, 43.579698. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Geelway mountain/Buur Gal Waay

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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 Forces 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 an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab militants near Lebede, Somalia on November 30, 2018.

We currently assess this airstrike killed nine (9) militants with no civilians involved.

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, Africa Union Mission in Somalia 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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    9

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM208

Incident date

March 15–16, 2019

Location

Jilib Marka, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.79767, 44.90755 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A Mareeg Media report from March 16th 2019 asserted that US-backed Somali forces had carried out an “air and ground operation” near Marka Town in Jilib Marka, 91km southwest of Mogadishu.

Citing anonymous Somali military officials, Mareeg said that “at least” 22 “militants” were killed in the operation, including ‘senior al Shabaab commanders’ Abu Yasin Sheikh Mohamed and Abu Mohamed Hamza. Universal TV Somalia described Mohamud Abu Hamza as having recently returned from Syria, while Xamar Today said that it was Abu Yasin who had recently arrived from Syria.

It added that “Somali military [sources] says drone strike also hit group’s militants in the area, inflicting heavy casualties upon them.”

In what may be the same or a separate event, Danan News reported on March 15th: “#BREAKING: Sources confirm a US airstrike killed today a senior al-Shabab commander known as #Ibrahim_Garwayne in #Lower_Shabelle region at #Leego village.#Somalia”.

According to Hiiran, “The troops also seized four al-Shabaab armored vehicles, an official said, adding that the operation was part of a regular operation conducted by government forces and US forces in the southern regions.”

Al-Shabaab also did not deny or confirm an attack on its forces.

Asked whether it had been responsible for this event, in February 2020 a senior AFRICOM official told Airwars that this was not the case. However, this may not preclude actions by the CIA which conducts its own undeclared strikes in Somalia.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    22

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • 'Victory and bravery: The country's military has confirmed an operation that killed al-Yasin Sheikh Mohamed, an al-Shabaab commander in the Shabelle region, and Mohamud Abu Hamza, recently returned from Syria. #SNA#DANAB ? #MarkoJilib'

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the area around the village Jilib Marka, near the town of Marka. The coordinates for Jilib Marka are: 1.79767, 44.90755. Due to limited information and satellite imagery 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, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    22

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM238

Incident date

July 14, 2019

Location

Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.208334, 44.909651 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Province/governorate

Airwars assessment

US air support was potentially involved in an operation to retake areas of the Lower Shabelle region which killed 15 al Shabaab fighters, Radio Shabelle reported.

Colonel Mohamed Abdullahi Arale confirmed to state media that the Somali National Army had retaken Yaaqbari Weyne, MadaxMarodi and Lego villages. Colonel Arale reportedly said that his troops had killed 15 fighters during the operation and destroyed several vehicles that they were using.

According to Shabelle’s sources, the US also provided air support. However other local sources made no mention of US support at the time.

In August 2019, the Media Relations Chief for US Africa Command, John Manley, denied US involvement in the strike telling the Bureau of Investigative Journalism “We did not participate in any combined operations in this location on this day, as alleged in the article.”

Asked whether it had been responsible for this event, in February 2020 a senior AFRICOM official told Airwars that this was not the case. However, this may not preclude actions by the CIA which conducts its own undeclared strikes in Somalia.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Known attacker
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    15

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the Lower Shabelle region. The report points to three different villages, spread throughout the region: Yaaqbari Weyne (2.62947, 44.69768), Madax Marodi (1.83016, 44.46721) and Leego (2.71437, 44.50902, just across the border in Bay). The generic coordinates for the Lower Shabelle region are: 2.208334, 44.909651. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The villages Leego, Yaaqbari Weyne and Madax Marodi, with the Lower Shabelle region marked in red

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

US denial of strike via email to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, received on August 5th, 2019:

"Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We did not participate in any
combined operations in this location on this day, as alleged in the article."

Somalia Military Forces Assessment:

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

Kenyan Military Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Kenyan Military Forces
  • Kenyan Military Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Kenyan Military Forces
  • Known attacker
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    15

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM182-C

Incident date

January 20, 2019

Location

Radio Andalus, Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

A reported airstrike or bomb blast by an unknown party on an al Shabaab radio station in Buale or Jilib town killed up to 25 al Shabaab supporters – five of them journalists. US Africa Command later denied responsibility.

According to Sonna Somalia, “At least 10 people have been killed and more than 30 others injured in a bomb blast in Jilib district in Middle Jubba region, witnesses said. The shelling caused heavy casualties to Al-Shabaab journalists who were in the compound during the shelling. Officials in the Jubbaland state confirmed the shelling on Al-Andulus Radio, an Al-Shabaab radio station, killing about 20 militants. According to local media, at least five Al-Shabaab journalists were killed and the radio station was demolished.”

It named the dead journalists as Feisalal Yare, Mohamed Adan Nasrudiin, Abdikarim Seyfulah, and Hassan Abdirahman.

Mogadishu News said that five journalists and 20 al Shabaab fighters were killed, in what it claimed was an airstrike on Jilib town.

In April 2020, AFRICOM denied responsibility for the event noting: “January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming up to five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on January 20, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.”

Airwars continues to count this as a possible US action, since it may have been a non-declared CIA strike.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 5
  • (0–5 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–25
  • Belligerents reported injured
    30

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted Al Shabaab radio station Al Andalus in the town of Jilib. Some sources also mention the town Bu’aale, but Radio Andalus is known to be located in Jilib. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location for Radio Andalus. The coordinates for the town Jilib (جيليب) are: 0.494527, 42.777868.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected 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 27, 2020
  • January 21, 2020, AFRICOM received a report from a foreign non-government organization claiming up to five (5) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on January 20, 2019. After review, the allegation was assessed to be unsubstantiated because no U.S. military strike took place on the alleged date or location.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 5
  • (0–5 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10–25
  • Belligerents reported injured
    30

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM267

Incident date

January 16, 2020

Location

Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

2.61945, 44.89357 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Somali officials reported the death of a senior al Shabaab commander during a gun battle at Wanlaweyn. It was not clear whether US forces had also participated in the raid.

According to the Horn Observer, “The special forces known as DANAB raided the house of Mohamed Osman Hussein Buluush, a mlitant bomb expert in the town of Wanlawein 90 south of the capital, where he was killed in a fight, according to the state run Somali National News Agency (SONNA). According to Ismail Abdi Malik, Somali miltary commander this militant is said to have replaced Mohamed Siidow another militant bomb expert who was killed in a strike at Caliyow Barrow village.

Garowe Online reported similarly: “Osman Hussein Bulush, SONNA said, was killed by government forces in Wanlaweyn, following fierce gunfight between the militants and SNA. Bulush replaced Siidow SONNA said: ‘Government forces managed to kill Osman Hussein Bulush, the head of Mutafajiraad after fierce gunfight.'”

The incident occured around midnight.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–3

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Wanlaweyn, for which the coordinates are: 2.61945, 44.89357

Somalia Military Forces Assessment:

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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Known attacker
    Somalia Military Forces
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–3

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM295

Incident date

March 15–17, 2020

Location

Vicinity of Janaale, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Several days after the events, US Africa Command press released that it had conducted five airstrikes in the vicinity of Janaale during March 16th-17th. Somali state media and government reported the same strikes but said they took place on March 15th-16th.

AFRICOM said the actions were in support of ground operations by Somalia forces, while noting that “U.S. forces were in the area when these airstrikes occurred in order to advise and assist Somali and partner forces.”

Unusually, the US gave no enemy casualty figures for the strikes – while noting that “These precision airstrikes targeted members of the al-Qaida-aligned terrorist network as they massed and maneuvered in the vicinity of an ongoing Somali-led ground operation.”

Sonna state media – citing the Ministry of Information – gave slightly different information. It said the attacks had taken place on March 15th-16th – a day earlier. It also stated that “the strikes left several al-Shabaab members killed and significantly reduced the group’s ability to conduct operations against SNA and AMISOM forces in Janale effectively.”

Airwars has set the minimum casualty range at two for this and each of the other four events during the battle for Janaale – and will update as more accurate information becomes available.

The strikes came during a major ground operation by the SNA and AMISOM, supported by US troops, to capture Janaale from the terror group al Shabaab. Early reports made no mention of the US role, focusing instead on the actions of Somali and Ugandan troops.

Halgan Media gave the following description of the battle: “Six unmarked helicopters were spotted hovering over the town of Janaale shortly before the assault began. A joint contingent of Somali, US and AMISOM forces stationed nearby later began the ground assault.

“The joint contingent were traveling in 47 [vehicles] while in route to the Al Shabaab controlled town of Janaale according to sources. Upon reaching the periphery of the town, the Somali and allied Foreign forces came under heavy fire from Al Shabaab militants, sparking fierce clashes. The coalition forces where able to withstand the hail of Al Shabaab bullets and penetrate the Militants line of defense. The Somali, US, and AMISOM forces entered the town of Janaale shortly after the clashes.

“Upon entering the town a military convoy carrying the coalition forces struck a roadside bomb.  Per sources the vehicle was severely damaged and engulfed in flames. The casualties from that blast still remain unknown. The armed group Al Shabaab withdrew from the town shortly after the encounter, as the strategic town of Janaale fell to coalition forces. The expulsion of Al Shabaab from Janaale comes five years after Militants previously overran the town after killing dozens of Ugandan troops.”

AFRICOM later said it had killed 15 Al Shabaab militants in the strikes. The number is reflected across the five incidents for the strikes.

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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (8) [ collapse]

  • Statement from the Somali Ministry of Information on the operation to capture Janaale, March 16th 2020
  • Via The Intercept

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a strike in the vicinity of Janaale, for which, due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The coordinates for Janaale are: 1.80953, 44.69345

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

As part of an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army operation, and in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted five airstrikes against al-Shabaab terrorists near Janaale, Somalia, March 16-17.

These precision airstrikes targeted members of the al-Qaida-aligned terrorist network as they massed and maneuvered in the vicinity of an ongoing Somali-led ground operation.

"We protect and remain committed to our partners - plain and simple," said Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. "We eliminated terrorists posing a direct and immediate threat, allowing our African partners to maintain the momentum on the ground."

Somali security forces continue to lead operations alongside AMISOM forces to increase security and seize ground from al-Shabaab.

Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of these airstrikes.

U.S. forces were in the area when these airstrikes occurred in order to advise and assist Somali and partner forces.

U.S. Africa Command continues to support the Government of Somalia by strengthening its security forces and promoting regional security, stability and prosperity. Al-Shabaab continues to conduct attacks in East Africa and will continue to threaten American and western interests in the region.

Concurrently, the command is building enduring relationships and strategic alliances in East Africa necessary to address future challenges and malign activity by near-peer competitors.

The U.S., by virtue of our capabilities, influence, and credibility, is uniquely postured to support Somali efforts and counter violent extremist threats.

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
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (9) [ 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]