AFRICOM publicly reported four strikes on the same area on the same day – asserting that it had killed 34 al Shabaab militants in total in the vicinity of Gandarshe. Another two strikes took place on December 16th, it said – killing another 28 militants.
“All six airstrikes were conducted in close coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and targeted a known al Shabaab encampment. U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,” a press release on the strikes stated.
AFRICOM assessed that no civilians were harmed during the strikes.
One of the four strikes was individually tweeted out by AFRICOM on the day, which it said had killed 8 fighters. The fatality range of this event has therefore been set to 26, and at zero for the two additional events that day – to avoid double counting. The actual numbers killed in each of the three untallied strikes is unknown.
Voice of America revealed additional information about the attacks: “U.S. military airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend destroyed a secret al-Shabab base close to the capital, Mogadishu, and killed at least 62 militants, including 10 middle-ranking commanders, according to Somali officials and intelligence sources. ‘The repeated strikes … targeted the al-Shabab base on a mountain area near Gendershe, where al-Shabab militants have been training new recruits and used to launch attacks against government soldiers and the African Union peacekeepers,’ said Abdifitah Haji Abdulle, deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region.
“A Somali intelligence official said the militants established the secret base about 53 kilometers south of Mogadishu because of its proximity to the capital and the port town of Marka. U.S. and Somali government forces have targeted other Shabab bases in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region for years, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘So, the militants decided to set up a new base … close to the Indian Ocean and Mogadishu to avoid the intelligence radar,’ the official told VOA’s Somali Service. Gendershe is a village on the coastal road linking the Somali capital to Marka.”
Associated Press offered a different perspective, indicating preventive measures against an imminent attack: “They were conducted with America’s ‘Somali partners to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as safe havens to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks,’ Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said, noting that no civilians had been killed or injured. ‘The strike has neutralized an imminent attack’ on a military base in the Lower Shabelle region, a Somali intelligence official told The Associated Press, adding that a camp and vehicles were hit.”
In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM confirmed it had separately targeted with three strikes on this date, what it says was an “al Shabaab encampment”, in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (6) [ collapse]
from sources (3) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of the village of Gandarshe (غندرشي), for which the coordinates are: 1.8349369, 44.9668452. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
According to a Freedom of Information request obtained by US reporter Joshua Eaton in May 2019, this US strike took place in Gardarshe, Somalia against an Al-Shabaab encampment.
Al-Shabaab Degraded by U.S., Federal Government of Somalia
To support the Federal Government of Somalia’s continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted a total of four (4) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 15, 2018.
U.S. forces also conducted two (2) precision airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Somalia, December 16, 2018.
We currently assess the airstrikes on December 15 killed thirty-four (34) militants.
We currently assess the airstrikes on December 16 killed twenty-eight (28) militants.
At this time we assess these airstrikes did not injure or kill any civilians.
All six (6) airstrikes were conducted in close coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia and targeted a known al-Shabaab encampment. U.S. Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these airstrikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks.
Alongside our Somali and international partners, we are committed to preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia. In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists.
U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States, and U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to protect the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM and Somali National Army forces.