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

USSOM376

Incident date

February 17, 2023

Location

near Afcad, Hiiraan, Somalia

Geolocation

3.597604, 45.676374 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Over 50 al-Shabaab militants were killed by Somali forces and “international partner” airstrikes or ground operations in near Afcad location in Hiiraan region on February 17, 2023.

Somali National Television quoted the Somali Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism which released a statement that the Somali Armed Forces with support in international security partners killed over 50 al-Shabaab militants, including give ring leaders, in operations near Afcad.

A tweet from @dhoorebbc pointed out that “international security partners” is a term referring to US airstrikes. However, the Somali government did not directly attribute the airstrikes to the US.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    50

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Afcad, for which the generic coordinates are: 3.597604, 45.676374. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    50

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM375

Incident date

February 15, 2023

Location

Hawda Qaycad, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

5.011765, 47.991627 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Local and official sources alleged that 10 al-Shabaab militants were killed and others were injured by Somalia National Army operations and airstrikes near Hawda Qaycad on February 15, 2023.

Abdi Garad Omar Mohamed, one of the officials of Wisil district in Mudug region, told Mustaqbal Media News that around 60 members of al-Shabaab were killed in a battle that took place in Hawda Qaida in the south of Mudug region. The source added that battle was accompanied by airstrikes against an al-Shabaab base near Hawda Qaycad.

The official Twitter account of the Somali National Army Radio Snaradio announced that “@SNAForce
with the support of the Galmudug State forces and local forces killed 10 #AlShabaab and injured others after conducting a planned operations against terrorists’ hideout at #Qaycad area in Mudug region.” The tweet did not mention airstrikes in assistance.

AFRICOM announced airstrikes in a different region near Bacadweyne on February 15th that resulted in the death of 5 al-Shabaa militants.

While no sources directly implicated the US in the operation, the Somali government’s reference to airstrikes has in the past indicated US involvement.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • "@SNAForce with the support of the Galmudug State forces and local forces killed 10 #AlShabaab and injured others after conducting a planned operations against terrorists’ hideout at #Qaycad area in Mudug region." (Image via @RadioSNA on Twitter)
  • "@SNAForce with the support of the Galmudug State forces and local forces killed 10 #AlShabaab and injured others after conducting a planned operations against terrorists’ hideout at #Qaycad area in Mudug region." (Image via @RadioSNA on Twitter)
  • "@SNAForce with the support of the Galmudug State forces and local forces killed 10 #AlShabaab and injured others after conducting a planned operations against terrorists’ hideout at #Qaycad area in Mudug region." (Image via @RadioSNA on Twitter)
  • "@SNAForce with the support of the Galmudug State forces and local forces killed 10 #AlShabaab and injured others after conducting a planned operations against terrorists’ hideout at #Qaycad area in Mudug region." (Image via @RadioSNA on Twitter)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Hawda Qaycad, for which the generic coordinates are: 5.011765, 47.991627. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM374

Incident date

February 15–16, 2023

Location

Iji and Afad, Middle Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

3.182270, 45.542860 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Additional Geolocations

3.597604, 45.676374 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

More than 272 al-Shabaab militants were reportedly killed and others were injured by Somali forces and “international partner” airstrikes or ground operations in Iji and Afad villages near Jalalaqsi district on February 15-16, 2023.

Hiraan Online News reported that “unidentified drones” bombed villages in the Hiraan region on as part of clashes between Somali government forces and al-Shabaab. Residents told Hiraan Online that fighting started in Iji and Afad villages near Jalalaqsi district on Wednesday and that Somalia government forces announced that they had seized control of Afad village.

Voice of America (VOA) quoted Somalia’s Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Adala who said that “The Somali National Army with the help of the local clan forces and international partners killed over 200 al-Shabab terrorists in the Iji area alone, about 23 kilometers from the Mahaday district in the Middle Shabelle region on Thursday. Also, the joint forces recovered weapons and supplies of medicine and foodstuff from the militants.” Adala added that four militant commanders were among those killed and a number of others were injured, and taken into custody.

The deputy security chief of Jalalaqsi town told VOA that “The joint forces responding to the militants’ movement launched military operations in which 72 militants were killed, and weapons were seized” in Afad village area.

AFRICOM announced airstrikes in a different region near Bacadweyne on February 15th that resulted in the death of 5 al-Shabaab militants.

While no sources directly implicated the US in the operation, the Somali government’s reference to “international partners” has in the past indicated US involvement.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    72–272
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the villages of Iji and Afad. The generic coordinates for Iji are: 3.182270, 45.542860. The generic coordinates for Afad are: 3.597604, 45.676374. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    72–272
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM373

Incident date

February 15, 2023

Location

Bacadweyne, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

7.192943, 47.526123 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between five and 70 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared US airstrikes and/or Somali government ground actions near Bacadweyne in the Mudug of central Galmudug state on February 15, 2023.

AFRICOM released a statement on February 16th that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Feb 15, 2023. The strike occurred in a remote area approximately near Bacadweyne, Somalia which is approximately 460 km northwest of Mogadishu. The initial assessment is the strike killed 5 al-Shabaab fighters. Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.”

Voice of America (VOA) quoted Somalia’s Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Adala who said that more than 70 militants were killed in three days of fighting in Mudug state. VOA also quoted Al-Shabab’s military operations spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Muscab spoke to the armed group’s mobile radio station, Al-furqan and said that “Our Mujahidin fighters carried out attacks on apostate soldiers and the backing militias in Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, middle Shabelle and Hiran regions for the past 24 hours, killing more than 60 of the enemy [government soldiers] and over 40 were injured.” VOA added that it could not verify either claim.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–70

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Bacadweyne, for which the generic coordinates are: 7.192943, 47.526123. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike on Feb 15, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area approximately near Bacadweyne, Somalia which is approximately 460 km northwest of Mogadishu.

The initial assessment is the strike killed 5 al-Shabaab fighters.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorist. Military actions are just one part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in their ongoing campaign.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners -- diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command's forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command and partner forces will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command's operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–70

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM372

Incident date

February 10, 2023

Location

Donlaye, Mudug, Somalia

Geolocation

5.266021, 47.910851 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between 12 and 117 alleged al-Shabaab militants were killed by declared AFRICOM airstrikes and/or Somali National Army operations in Donlaye, near Amara town, on February 10, 2023.

AFRICOM released a statement on February 12th that “At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike Feb 10, 2023. The strike occurred in a remote area approximately 45 km southwest of Hobyo, Somalia, and about 472 km northeast of Mogadishu. The initial assessment is the strike killed 12 al-Shabaab fighters. Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.”

A tweet from Somali National News Agency (SONNA) released a statement from the Somali National Army’s Infantry chief, G. M. Tahalil, that “117 Alshabab terrorists were killed in a operation carried out by #Somali National Army and Galmudug regional forces with support of airstrike from Somalia’s international security partners in Donlaye, near Amara town.”

Saudi Gazette News added that the operation lasted eight hours long and resulted in security forces chasing the remnants of al-Shabaab members into the forest.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    12–117

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention Donlaye, allegedly in the vicinity of Amara. The generic coordinates for Amara are: 5.266021, 47.910851. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

At the request of the Federal Government of Somalia and in support of Somali National Army engagements against al-Shabaab, U.S. Africa Command conducted a collective self-defense strike Feb 10, 2023.

The strike occurred in a remote area approximately 45 km southwest of Hobyo, Somalia, and about 472 km northeast of Mogadishu.

The initial assessment is the strike killed 12 al-Shabaab fighters.

Given the remote location of the operation, the command assesses that no civilians were injured or killed.

Rooting out extremism requires intervention beyond traditional military means.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has publicly stated that economic reform, social and political reconciliation, and religious tolerance are key pillars of his strategy to mobilize society against international terrorist. Military actions are only a part of the Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to comprehensively address their security challenges.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing humanitarian aid, stabilization efforts, economic development, and military assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia in their ongoing campaign.

U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners -- diplomacy, development and defense. This three-pronged, or “3D” approach brings together multiple agencies from within the U.S. government to increase cooperation and support for partner-led, U.S.-enabled solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

“U.S. Africa Command provides support to the Somali government to address terrorist threats, but we are only part of the U.S. efforts there,” said Gen. Michael Langley, AFRICOM commander. “Our Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development colleagues have programs that help build resilience through education and training; develop agricultural diversity; improve markets and trade; and strengthen democracy and good governance.”

Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command's forces train, advise, and assist partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command will continue to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command's operations to promote greater security for all Africans. To view the U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty reports, visit: https://www.africom.mil/what-we-do/airstrikes/civilian-casualty-report.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    12–117

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM371-C

Incident date

January 30, 2023

Location

Between Fidow and Qura’ley, Somalia

Geolocation

3.072410, 45.744700 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Additional Geolocations

3.269209, 45.698610 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At least seven civilians, including three children, were killed by alleged US drone strikes between Fidow and Qura’ley villages on January 30, 2023.

Shabelle Media Network spoke with the deputy Mahas district commissioner who said that seven villagers, including children, were killed by a strike believed to have been carried out by the US. Residents in the Hiran region reported that the airstrikes took place “between Fidow and Qura’ley villages which lie on the Hiran-Middle Shabelle regions’ crossing border.”

Caasimada Online News provided the names of the civilians killed: 1- Ahmed Mohamed Noor, 20 years old, 2- Abdiqadar Mohamed Noor, 18 years old, 3- Qeys Mohamed Noor, 8 years old, 4- Umar Maham Abukar, 18 years old, 5- Abdullahi Mohamud Issa 6-Ahmed Khadar Ibrahim Osman, 13 years old, 7-Assir Hassan Abdi, 14 years old. Three of those killed were brothers.

Local people told Caasimada Online News that three of the youths were initially arrested by al-Shabaab, while the other four took them to a place for lunch.

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the strikes to the US, with the Somali Guardian specifying that the attack was carried out by drones.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

Ahmed Mohamed Noor
20 years old male killed
Abdiqadar Mohamed Noor
18 years old male killed
Qeys Mohamed Noor
8 years old male killed

The victims were named as:

Umar Maham Abukar
18 years old killed
Abdullahi Mohamud Issa
Age unknown killed
Ahmed Khadar Ibrahim Osman
13 years old killed
Assir Hassan Abdi
14 years old killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7
  • (3 children)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Bodies of the civilians allegedly killed by US airstrikes between Fidow and Qura’ley villages on January 30, 2022. (Image posted by Caasimada Online News)
  • Bodies of the civilians allegedly killed by US airstrikes between Fidow and Qura’ley villages on January 30, 2022. (Image posted by Caasimada Online News)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the villages of Fidow and Qura’ley. The generic coordinates for Fidow are: 3.072410, 45.744700. The generic coordinates for Qura’ley are: 3.269209, 45.698610. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7
  • (3 children)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM370

Incident date

January 29, 2023

Location

between Tawakal and Garasjered, Lower Shabelle, Somalia

Geolocation

1.822314, 44.586645 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Additional Geolocations

1.779953, 44.635645 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

136 al-Shabaab fighters were killed and up to 98 others were injured in an operation carried out by the Somali government and international partners between Tawakal and Garasjered in Lower Shabelle region on January 29, 2023.

BBC News quoted the Somali government who said that 136 al-Shabaab fighters, including top commanders, were killed in a joint operation carried out with Somalia’s international partners.

Caasimada Online News quoted Deputy Minister of Information, Abdirahman Yusuf Al-Adala added that 90 other members of al-Shabaab were also wounded and that the operation took place in a jungle between Tawakal and Garasjered, 12km west of Janale district in the Lower Shabelle region. A tweet from @JournalistAadan put the number of injuries at 98.

Caasimada Online News also provided the names of some of the high-ranking leaders: Salman Dhere, responsible for the group’s coastal operations, and Moallim Salahey, who was in charge of attacks on the towns of Awdhegle, Qoryolay, and Janale. Moallim Hashi, a leader in charge of the group’s operations in the Lower Shabelle region. The government claimed to also have destroyed a weapons cache, vehicles, and equipment for explosive devices.

While none of the source directly implicate the US in this operation, reference to international partners has in the past included US forces.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    136
  • Belligerents reported injured
    90–98

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the villages of Garasjered and Tawakal. The generic coordinates for Garasjered are: 1.822314, 44.586645. The generic coordinates for Tawakal are: 1.779953, 44.635645. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Ground operation
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    136
  • Belligerents reported injured
    90–98

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USSOM368

Incident date

January 25, 2023

Location

Almiskad mountains, Bari, Somalia

Geolocation

10.219175, 50.049347 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

An ISIS leader and 10 of his associates were killed by a declared US counterterrorism operation in the Almiskad mountains of Bari region, Somalia on January 25, 2023. One US service member was injured during the operation when a dog bit him.

AFRICOM initially released a statement that “the U.S. military conducted a successful counterterrorism operation in Somalia.” The statement only included the assessment that no civilians were injured or killed, adding that “additional details will be provided in the coming days.”

The next day, the Department of Defense released a statement from Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III that “On January 25, on orders from the President, the U.S. military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of a number of ISIS members, including Bilal-al-Sudani, an ISIS leader in Somalia and a key facilitator for ISIS’s global network. Al-Sudani was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan. This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad. No civilians were harmed as a result of this operation.”

During a Q&A with two senior administration officials, one official provided details that the operation took place in a mountainous cave complex in northern Somalia and resulted in the killing of 10 ISIS associates in addition to al-Sudani. According to the official, American forces were prepared to capture al-Sudani but “the hostile forces’ response to the operation resulted in his death”. The operation had been planned for months, including extensive rehearsals at sites “specifically built to recreate the terrain where the operation ultimately needed to take place” but mentioned that the Somalia government was “notified” of the operation, indicating that they were not involved and that they may not have been forewarned. Somali government security adviser Hussein Sheikh Ali stated that the death of al-Sudani was “very positive and welcoming,” adding that Islamic State was not as big a threat as al-Shabab in Somalia, but that al-Sudani was “dangerous”.

The same official reiterated that there were no injuries among civilians and that the only injury was to a US service member who was bit by their own canine. A reporter later pointed out that this senior official was the Homeland Security Advisor, questioning whether the operation target was a direct threat to the US homeland.

Another senior administration official described al-Sudani as supporting ISIS’s expansion and activities in Africa and beyond, including providing funding to ISIS around the world, specifically the ISIS Khorasan branch in Afghanistan. al-Sudani had been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2012 for his role in al-Shabaab before joining ISIS. Security researcher Dino Mahtani told BBC that al-Sudani was “an important figure in the attempt by this faction of Islamic State to build a trans-national network straddling Central Africa and East Africa and now with links down to Mozambique” and that his groups were also involved in weapon-smuggling. Analysts told BBC that the fact that US troops were sent rather than a less risky drone strike indicates the importance of al-Sudani.

All Africa News reported that “airstrikes” had taken place in the Almiskad mountains, which is an area where ISIS affiliates have training and hideout camps. This was likely reported prior to the US announcing their involvement. US officials declined to provide details on the service members that were involved in the raid. However, the New York Times reported that US Special Operations commandos carried out the operation, pointing out that the US troops stationed in Somalia were only there to provide training to Somali forces.

BBC pointed out that the raid came just a week after ISIS published a rare propaganda video from Somalia showing footage of clashing with Somali government forces in the mountainous radian in north-eastern Bari, the same area the raid took place.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    11
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the mountains in the north of the Bari administrative region. The generic coordinates for this region are: 10.219175, 50.049347. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

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US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III
On January 25, on orders from the President, the U.S. military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of a number of ISIS members, including Bilal-al-Sudani, an ISIS leader in Somalia and a key facilitator for ISIS’s global network. Al-Sudani was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan. This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad. No civilians were harmed as a result of this operation. We are grateful to our extraordinary service members as well as our intelligence community and other interagency partners for their support to this successful counterterrorism operation.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Small arms and light weapons
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    ISIS - Somalia
  • Belligerents reported killed
    11
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (16) [ collapse]