At least four civilian casualties were reported injured or killed in a confirmed US attack on Dinsooor, though it was not clear if they were injured or killed. JSOC had targeted and killed Yusef Dheeqm, al Shabaab’s head of external operations in the drone strike.
Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed in two separate Pentagon press conferences that the US had carried out the attack and had killed a senior al Shabaab figure. The first, on February 3rd, confirmed the attack was a US operation. Kirby then declared that the US had killed its target in a second press conference on February 10th. This was the third consecutive US drone strike in Somalia to kill a senior al Shabaab figure to follow a split confirmation format – with a first briefing confirming a strike, and a second confirming the death of an al Shabaab target.
Kirby said US Special Forces had killed Yusef Dheeq and one associate. When confirming the attack, Kirby said Dheeq was targeted “with Hellfire missiles fired from UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]”. Kirby described Dheeq as al Shabaab’s “intelligence and security chief, and director of external planning”. However he said that if Dheeq “no longer draws breath,” the US military considered the strike to be a success. The strike “goes to show how long our reach can be when it comes to counter terrorism,” he added.
Before Kirby’s statement, an unnamed official told the Washington Post that Dheeq was killed while riding in a vehicle with other alleged al Shabaab members. It was not clear how many others were killed, the official added. Ahmed Adan, a Bay region official, told Anadolu Agency: “Several al Shabaab militants and a top leader have been killed in the airstrike.” The strike killed five according to an Africaine de Presse report.
Local resident Ali Yare told AFP there had been four civilian casualties in the strike. The civilians were injured he said: however it was not clear if they had died of their injuries: “We heard a very loud explosion and a few minutes later I saw cars rushing to the scene, some of them returned with casualties. Four civilians were among the casualties… We don’t know who was the target because the area was sealed off.”
See also a US confirmed strike declared for February 2nd 2014 at Dinsoor, which may in fact be this event.
The incident occured during the night.
Sources (6) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike targeted a convoy heading to an al Shabaab training camp near the town Diinsoor. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the precise location of the strike. The coordinates for the town of Diinsoor are: 2.40735, 42.976551.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
Stars and Stripes, February 10th, 2015:
"WASHINGTON — Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. military killed a senior leader of the al-Shabab militant group last month.
Last week, Kirby told reporters that a Jan. 31 American drone strike targeted Yusuf Dheeq, the head of external operations for the al-Qaida affiliated organization, which is based in Somalia. As of last week, officials were still trying to determine whether the strike was successful."