AFRICOM reported that the previous day it had “conducted two (2) airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants near Jilib, Middle Juba Region, Somalia, on January 23, 2019.”
It also asserted that “at this time we assess no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.”
AFRICOM gave no figures on the number of belligerents killed. Associated Press confirmed the strikes and reported that AFRICOM “will no longer give details on fighters killed or damage done”, and claimed that future reporting of deaths and damages will remain at the discretion of the Somali Government.
Responding to an enquiry from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, AFRICOM stated: “We constantly review our reporting practices to ensure we provide the most pertinent information available that resonates with US and international audiences. This review includes an analysis of what resonates with media in its coverage of US Africa Command through our press releases and interviews.
“Because we are looking for better ways to communicate the strategic importance of our operations in support of our partners, we may not always lead with casualty numbers in our initial release. We also may be assessing the results of the strike and may not have complete information before we publish the press release. In those cases, we will provide casualty figures in response to query.”
The Washington Examiner was told that one militant died in the strikes [which Airwars has assigned to the other event on this date]: “‘We no longer discuss battle damage assessments resulting from our airstrikes,’ said Maj. Karl Wiest, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command, in response to an inquiry from the Washington Examiner. When pressed, Wiest said in a follow-up email that the U.S. assesses the Wednesday strikes killed one al-Shabaab militant. ‘While enemy casualties are an expected outcome of strike operations, the resulting number of EKIA [Enemy Killed in Action] is much less important to understand than how these strikes are helping our Somali partners achieve their strategic security objectives,’ Wiest added.”
This incident came after the deadliest airstrike in some time four days previously, which reportedly killed from 52 to 73 alleged belligerents.
In a subsequent FOIA response obtained by journalist Joshua Eaton in May 2019, AFRICOM again confirmed it had struck on this date what it says was an al Shabaab checkpoint, near Jilib. The US command also identified a second strike that day on an “al Shabaab named objective”, also near Jilib, which we list separately for this date.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (4) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place near the town Jilib (جيليب), for which the generic coordinates are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
To support the Federal Government of Somalia's continued efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, U.S. forces conducted two (2) airstrikes targeting al-Shabaab militants near Jilib, Middle Juba Region, Somalia, on January 23, 2019.
U.S. Africa Command conducted the airstrikes to increase pressure on the al-Shabaab network and degrade its ability to plot and conduct operations.
At this time we assess no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.
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 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.