Somalia: Reported US actions 2018

The timeline below contains information on all US drone strikes and covert operations in Somalia recorded by the Bureau in 2018. The Bureau derives its data from open sources – predominantly media reports and, latterly, the US headquarters responsible for the war in Somalia, Africa Command or Africom. 

Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. The information below represents our present best estimate.

The Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has carrying out air strikes and ground raids in Somalia for ten years, though it has been conducting clandestine operations against al Qaeda in East Africa, and its local ally al Shabaab, since the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

JSOC are routinely deployed on the ground for surveillance, reconnaissance, and assault and capture operations. Air attacks began in 2007 with helicopters and AC-130 gunships – vast ground attack aircraft that bristle with weapons. In June 2011, the US began carrying out drone strikes in Somalia.

The US has been chasing leaders of al Shabaab, a local Somali insurgent groups, who had ties to al Qaeda. This therefore made them targets under the 2001 Authorisation for the Use of Military Force Act, a hastily drafted law giving the US president the right to target and kill al Qaeda and its associates wherever he might find them.

Al Shabaab as a whole has not been specifically targeted, the US says, despite, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri announcing on February 9 2012 that al Shabaab had formally become a franchise of al Qaeda. In 2014 the frequency of US attacks in Somalia increased as the US started giving African peace keepers air support, targeting al Shabaab fighters who threatened the African troops and their US advisors. 

The Bureau publishes a narrative timeline of US strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen each year. The 2017 timeline for Pakistan will be below. Links for all other timelines can be found here.

We also publish spreadsheets detailing casualty numbers in each country. You can download the entire Somalia sheet here.

US operations in Somalia, 2018
US air and drone strikes Additional US attacks
Total strikes 1 0
Total people killed 2 0
Civilians reported killed 0 0
Children reported killed 0 0
People reported injured 0 0


SOM081 link

2 January 2018

  • 2 reported killed

A US strike killed two al Shabaab fighters and destroyed a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), according to a US Africa Command press release, "preventing it from being used against the people in Mogadishu".

The strike, which took place in the early hours of the morning, hit approximately 50 kilometers west of the capital.

This is the second strike in a week that Africa Command has said hit a VBIED. 

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: 50 kilometers west of Mogadishu 
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email