Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USSOM305-C

Incident date

April 6, 2020

Location

جيليب, Jilib, Middle Juba, Somalia

Geolocation

0.494527, 42.777868 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were killed and one child injured by a US airstrike near Jilib, according to a number of local sources.

Mareeg said that at least two civilians had been killed.

Halgan Media claimed the following: “Suspected US drones launched a series of strikes overnight bombing the Al Shabaab controlled town of Jilib in the Middle Jubba province of Somalia. Sources that spoke with Halgan Media on condition of anonymity reveal three missiles rained down on the town in the midst of the night. The strikes struck a densely populated neighborhood in the town. Three civilians where instantly killed in the deadly drone strike according to sources. The victims have been identified as two males and a women.”

Morad News tweeted that a child was injured in addition to three civilians killed.

AFRICOM itself insisted it had caused no civilian harm: “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab terrorists in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, Apr. 6. The command’s initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed five (5) terrorists.

“U.S. Africa Command currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. U.S. Africa Command is aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from the April 6, 2020 airstrike in Jilib, Somalia. As with any allegation of civilian casualties U.S. Africa Command receives and reviews any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties.”

Later AFRICOM detailed the rebuttal of civilian harm in its quarterly civilian harm report: “Contrary to the allegations stating the airstrike targeted civilians, including a child and an elderly woman, an airstrike was executed on April 6, 2020 against five adult males which U.S. intelligence confirmed were al-Shabaab members. No civilians were observed in the area before or after the strike. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the five al-Shabaab members. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action. Additionally, the sources of the allegations are known al-Shabaab media and propaganda outlets, or are sympathetic to al-Shabaab. The sources used photos that were published in 2019.”

The original source of the images cannot be found at this time. In an email to Airwars, AFRICOM clarified “that it did appear on a Somalia-based website in 2019” but refused to give any further details.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 3
  • (1 woman2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (8) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Alleged victim of US strike on Jilib on April 6th, 2020 (via Morad News)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Alleged victim of US strike on Jilib on April 6th, 2020 (via Morad News)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Ahmed Hussein, allegedly injured in US strike on Jilib on April 6th, 2020 (via Morad News)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Alleged victim of US strike on Jilib on April 6th, 2020 (via Morad News)
  • Ahmed Hussein, allegedly injured in US strike on Jilib on April 6th, 2020 (via Shahad News)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention multiple strikes in the vicinity of Jilib (جيليب) town, for which the generic coordinates are: 0.494527, 42.777868. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected 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
  • Jul 28, 2020
  • April 6, 2020, (Unsubstantiated) USAFRICOM received four allegations from online media sources and social media accounts claiming three (3) civilians were killed and one (1) civilian injured as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on April 6, 2020. After review, the allegations were assessed to be unsubstantiated. Contrary to the allegations stating the airstrike targeted civilians, including a child and an elderly woman, an airstrike was executed on April 6, 2020 against five adult males which U.S. intelligence confirmed were al-Shabaab members. No civilians were observed in the area before or after the strike. Strike images confirmed that the effects were limited to the five al-Shabaab members. It is assessed with a high degree of confidence that no civilian casualties occurred as a result of U.S. military action. Additionally, the sources of the allegations are known al-Shabaab media and propaganda outlets, or are sympathetic to al-Shabaab. The sources used photos that were published in 2019.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting al-Shabaab terrorists in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, Apr. 6.

"By assisting our partners in East Africa, we diminish a serious threat to Somalia as well as to the U.S. homeland," said Col. Christopher Karns, director of public affairs, U.S. Africa Command. "Our efforts help to protect Somalis, Americans, and our international partners. We take this responsibility very seriously and continue to place pressure on the enemy."

The command's initial assessment concluded this airstrike killed five (5) terrorists.

U.S. Africa Command currently assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. U.S. Africa Command is aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from the April 6, 2020 airstrike in Jilib, Somalia. As with any allegation of civilian casualties U.S. Africa Command receives and reviews any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties.

U.S. Africa Command and our international partners recognize that stability in Somalia will not be achieved through purely military means. It requires providing programs and opportunity for the Somali people.

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 and Somali National Army forces. Together with the partner and allied forces, U.S. Africa Command works on a daily basis to improve security conditions to enhance governance and economic development.

U.S. Africa Command continues to work with its Somali partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 3
  • (1 woman2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al-Shabaab
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5

Sources (12) [ collapse]