Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM257-C

Incident date

November 19, 2019

Location

حرمك, Kunya Barrow, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.7928186, 43.3841839 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

The US military reported on the same day that it had carried out an airstrike near Qunyo Barrow that killed one “terrorist.” However al Shabaab insisted the victim was a local civilian businessman named Ismail Issa Bhutan. AFRICOM later insisted the target “was both an al-Shabaab leader and weapons supplier.”

According to a press release issued on November 19th by US Africa Command, “At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. Strikes near Qunyo Barrow disrupt al-Shabaab’s freedom of maneuver and ability to organize. The individual targeted had direct ties to the al-Qaeda terror organization”

AFRICOM added that it currently assessed that no civilians had been harmed in the attack.

According to Associated Press the drone strike took place outside Kunyo Barrow, and targeted a senior al Shabaab official: “A Somali intelligence official says a U.S. drone strike has killed a senior officer with the al-Shabab extremist group. The official says the unidentified officer had maintained links with foreign extremist groups with the aim of coordinating future attacks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. Residents said the officer’s vehicle was struck Tuesday outside the al-Shabab-held town of Kunya Barow in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region.”

However, as NBC News analyst Evan Kohlmann tweeted: “Shabaab al-Mujahideen insists that the individual killed in a US military airstrike yesterday in Somalia was actually a local civilian merchant named Ismail Issa Bhutan, who was hit by 2 missiles in short succession after his mobile phone began to ring.”

According to Somalia News 24/7, “Witnesses say that a man who was a businessman and had a shop in the town was killed in the attack.”

In April 2020, in its first quarterly civilian harm report, AFRICOM explicitly denied harming a civilian in the attack: “After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. On November 19, 2019 a kinetic strike was executed against one individual which U.S. intelligence confirmed was both an al-Shabaab leader and weapons supplier. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the one individual. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Name unknown Age unknown male

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • CBA TV video

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the strike took place in the vicinity of Kunya Barrow (حرمك), for which the coordinates are: 0.7928186, 43.3841839. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known 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
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Apr 27, 2020
  • November 19, 2019, AFRICOM received one allegation from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Somalia, on November 19, 2019. AFRICOM received a duplicate allegation of this incident on January 21, 2020, from a foreign non-government organization. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. On November 19, 2019 a kinetic strike was executed against one individual which U.S. intelligence confirmed was both an al-Shabaab leader and weapons supplier. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the one individual. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab terrorist in the vicinity of Qunyo Barrow, Somalia, on Nov. 19.
“Armed over-watch and the progression of Somali forces are preventing individuals and larger groups of al-Shabaab fighters from doing future harm to innocent Somalis and becoming a potential threat to the United States,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. “Ongoing Somali efforts and persistent pressure on the network help create the necessary conditions to extend the reach of Somali security forces and governance.”
At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. Strikes near Qunyo Barrow disrupt al-Shabaab’s freedom of maneuver and ability to organize. The individual targeted had direct ties to the al-Qaeda terror organization.
Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike.
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. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM, and Somali National Army forces.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Discounted
    Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (7) [ collapse]