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 28 3
Total people killed 188-192 1-10
Civilians reported killed 0-5 0-5
Children reported killed 0 0-5
People reported injured 19 5-11

Strikes

SOM111 link

25 October 2018

  • 2 reported killed

A US strike on October 25 killed two militants and destroyed a vehicle, US Africa Command said in a press release.

The command stated that it currently assessed no civilians were harmed in the strike.

"This precision airstrike was conducted in support of the Federal Government of Somalia as it continues to degrade al Shabaab. Airstrikes reduce al Shabaab’s ability to plot future attacks, disrupt its leadership networks, and degrade its freedom of maneuver within the region," the press release said.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Vicinity of Kunyo Barrow
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM110 link

14 October 2018

  • 4 reported killed

The US carried out a strike in Somalia on October 14 after partner forces came under attack from small arms fire, a US Africa Command press release stated.

The press release called it a "collective self-defense airstrike". No US service members were present on the ground during what it said was a Somali-led operation.

The strike killed four al Shabaab fighters, the press release said.

SOM109 link

12 October 2018

  • 60 reported killed

Around 60 al Shabaab fighters were killed in a US strike on October 12, US Africa Command has announced.

In a press release, the command said the strike was the largest against al Shabaab since November last year, when US forces carried out a strike it said hit al Shabaab camp killing approximately 100 militants.

In an earlier press release, the command said that they were "currently assessing the results of this airstrike, which targeted only al Shabaab militants." This marked a change from the usual line included in Africom press releases, which tends to state that the command has assessed that no civilians were injured or killed in the strike.

We took this to Africom, who said that, at this time, they had assessed no civilians were injured or killed in the strike and stated they had not been investigating any allegations of civilian casualties. This was reiterated in the second press release.

"This precision airstrike was conducted in support of the Federal Government of Somalia as it continues to degrade al-Shabaab. Airstrikes reduce al-Shabaab’s ability to plot future attacks, disrupt its leadership networks, and degrade its freedom of maneuver within the region," the second press release stated.

Two US defense officials told CNN the strike was carried out by a drone.

SOM108 link

6 October 2018

  • 1 reported killed

US forces carried out an airstrike targeting an al Shabaab militant on October 6, a US press release said.

The release said one member of the group had been killed, adding that the command currently assessed that no civilians had been killed on injured in the strike.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, Lower Shabelle
  • References: US Africa Command press release

SOM107C link

4 October 2018

Somali media site Mareeg reported a US drone strike may have injured women and children. An anonymous sources told them the victims has been taken to hospital for medical treatment.

The strike was reported to have hit small residential areas near El Adde town in Somalia’s Gedo region, with Mareeg saying it caused the destruction of houses and shops.

According to Mareeg, a Somali military aligned radio station said the strike killed ten al ShabaaB fighters including a senior al Shabaab commander.

Al Shabaab denied their fighters had been targeted, reportedly releasing photos they said showed the area hit in the strike.

The date of the strike was not clear but it was reported on October 4.

We reached out to US Africa Command, the US military body responsible for activities in Somalia. They said that the last strike they carried out was on October 1 and they assessed no civilians were injured or killed.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: El Adde town, Gedo region
  • References: Mareeg, US Africa Command via email

SOM107 link

1 October 2018

  • 9 reported killed
  • 1 reported injured

US forces carried out a strike on October 1 after al Shabaab fighters attacked Somali forces, according to a US Africa Command press release.

Nine al Shabaab fighters were allegedly killed and another injured. The press release said the command had assessed that no civilians were killed or injured.

SOM106 link

21 September 2018

  • 18 reported killed

US forces carried out a self-defence strike against al Shabaab on September 21, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

"The US airstrike was conducted against militants after US and partner forces came under attack. We currently assess eighteen terrorists were killed in the strike. Two other terrorists were killed by Somali forces with small arms fire during the engagement," the press release read.

SOM105C link

19 September 2018

Several senior al Shabaab officials have been killed or wounded in an airstrike, Somalia intelligence officials reportedly said, but the group and a resident said children were among the dead.

It was not clear who carried out the strike, AP reported. US Africa Command said it had not carried out a strike since September 11. Kenya also carries out strikes, as does Ethiopia. A local news site reported it as a Kenya strike. A statement from the Somali deputy information minister said it was "international partners".

The intelligence officials said the strike hit a training school and nearby hospital in Sakow, in the Middle Jubba region. Al Shabab said three children were killed, and an local elder told AP that several young recruits were killed. Mareeg said at least three children died in the strike, confirmed, it said, by witnesses who contacted local radio stations.

Hassan Yaqub, a longtime commander, was reportedly targeted in the strike. The Somali Deputy Information Minister Adam Isak Ali said Yaqub had been injured. Twelve members of the group were also killed, he said.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Sakow, Middle Jubba region
  • References: AP, Mareeg, Prensa Latina

SOM105 link

11 September 2018

  • 2 reported killed
  • 1 reported injured

US forces carried out a strike during a Somali partner forces-led operation against al­ Shabaab in the central Somali village of Mubaraak, west of the capital Mogadishu, Africa Command said in a press release.

"The US air strike was conducted against an enemy fighting position in self-defense after US and partner forces came under attack," the press release stated. "We currently assess two terrorists were killed and one terrorist was wounded in the strike." Africom said that it found no civilian casualties.

During the operation, one member of a partner force was killed and two others injured.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Mubaraak, 37 miles west of Mogadishu
  • References: US Africa Command via email

SOM104 link

27 August 2018

  • 3 reported killed

US forces carried out a strike on August 27, according to US Africa Command, killing three members of al Shabaab.

The strike hit approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, a statement from the command said.

The statement read:

"US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting terrorists, their training camps, and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region."

It added that the Command has assessed that no civilians had been killed or injured in this strike.

  • Type of strike: US air and drone strike
  • Location: 40 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM103 link

21 August 2018

  • 2 reported killed

US forces carried out a strike on August 21 killing two al Shabaab fighters, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

The strike hit approximately 46 kilometers northeast of Kismayo, a port city in southern Somalia.

The Command said it currently assesses no civilians were killed or injured in this strike.

  • Type of strike: US air and drone strike
  • Location: 46 kilometers northeast of Kismayo
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM102 link

2 August 2018

  • 4 reported killed

US forces conducted a strike on August 2 killing four "terrorists", US Africa Command said in a statement.

It took place approximately 74 miles northwest of Mogadishu, the statement said. No further location details were given.

The command said it currently assessed no civilian casualties had resulted from the strike.

  • Type of strike: US air and drone strike
  • Location: 74 miles northwest of Mogadishu
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM101 link

23 July 2018

US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab in an area around 50 kilometres north of Kismayo.

Post-strike analysis has not revealed the number of militants killed, a US spokesperson told the Bureau.

This was the only strike carried out in July, as of July 30.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: 50 kilometres north of Kismayo
  • References: US Africa Command spokesperson via email

SOM100C link

10 July 2018

  • 8 reported killed

Mareeg news, a Somali news outlet, has reported a possible strike killing eight members of al Shabaab. The group reportedly denied any members were killed.

The source of their information was a tweet from Harun Maruf, a journalist. While Mareeg said the jets were unidentified, Maruf said it was a suspected US strike. US Africa Command reportedly told Mareeg no strikes have been carried out in Somalia since early June.

Maruf said the strike hit near Jawaari village in Somalia's Middle Jubba region the night of July 10.

It is included here as a possible US strike.

Harun Maruf on Twitter

Reports of new suspected U.S. airstrike reported near Jawaari village, Middle Jubba region last night. Pro-Al-Shabab media say no one was hurt but other sources say as many as 8 militants were killed. #Somalia

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Jawaari village, Middle Juba
  • References: Mareeg News, Twitter

SOM100 link

8 June 2018

An American special forces soldier was killed and four others were wounded in an attack by al Shabaab fighters in Jubaland. A member of a partner force was also injured.

The US soldiers were among a large force of 800 Somali and Kenyan soldiers conducting a “multiday operation”, US Africa Command said. The mission's objective was to " clear al Shabaab from contested areas, liberate villages from al Shabaab control, and establish a permanent combat outpost," according to a press release from the command, with US forces providing "advice, assistance and aerial surveillance".

The group however came under attack from mortar and small-arms fire at around 2:45pm (local time). US Department of Defence officials said they were at a small outpost near the town of Jamaame when the incident occurred. The US team was backed up by armed surveillance aircraft overhead, but the location of the mortar fire could not be determined in what one official called “a very quick engagement” by the militants, according to the New York Times.

The statement from US Africa Command read:

A large force consisting of approximately 800 forces from the SNSF and KDF were conducting a multi-day operation approximately 350 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu when the attack occurred. The mission's objectives were to clear al-Shabaab from contested areas, liberate villages from al-Shabaab control, and establish a permanent combat outpost designed to increase the span of Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) security and governance. The U.S. provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission.
The FGS is dedicated to restoring peace and stability to the Somali people, and the U.S. supports those efforts. This mission was specifically designed to increase the FGS’s ability to provide vital government services to innocent civilians living under al-Shabaab’s rule. The population in the region had historically supported the government, and the Somali forces had prepared for this mission by coordinating heavily with and securing the support of local authorities ahead of time.

SOM099 link

3 June 2018

US Africa Command told the Bureau in July that they carried out two strikes in June. We had recorded only one of these, on June 2 (see entry below).

The second took place on June 3. It targeted members of al Shabaab approximately 24 miles southwest of Bosasso, according to Africom.

"We currently assess no terrorists and no civilians were killed in this airstrike," a spokesperson said.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: 24 miles southwest of Bosasso
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM098 link

2 June 2018

  • 27 reported killed

The US announced a strike on June 2 killed a large number of al Shabaab fighters, with 27 members of the group allegedly killed.

The exact location of the strike was not specified, but a press release from US Africa Command said it hit approximately 26 miles southwest of Bosasso.

No civilians were assessed to have been killed, it added.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: 26 miles southwest of Bosasso
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM097 link

31 May 2018

  • 12 reported killed

Twelve members of al Shabaab were killed in a US strike, according to a US Africa Command press release.

The strike hit 30 miles southwest of the capital.

The press release said no civilians were assessed to have been killed.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: 30 miles southwest of Mogadishu
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM096 link

23 May 2018

US Africa Command confirmed a strike targeting al Shabaab militants on May 23. Ten members of the group were reportedly killed.

The US said it occurred 15 miles southwest of Mogadishu. Radio Shabelle News had said a strike hit al Shabaab bases on the outskirts of Arbiska village in the Lower Shabelle region, located near the capital.

Africom said it assessed no civilians were killed in the strike.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Arbiska village, Lower Shabelle region
  • References: Radio Shabelle News, US Africa Command press release via email

SOM095 link

9 May 2018

  • 0-5 civilian casualties

Reports surfaced of five civilians being killed in a raid. The raid was reportedly carried out by Somalia commandos, with the US saying American troops supported the mission in an "advise and assist" capacity.

Soon after the incident, the Somali government denied the allegations of civilian casualties. US Africa Command said it would review information on the raid but announced in June that after a "thorough" review the allegations had been deemed "not credible".

The raid took place in a village in the Lower Shabelle region. While a Somali intelligence official said the site targeted was a "key hideout and coordination centre" of al Shabaab, relatives and locals say it was a banana farm.

The five killed were allegedly shot dead. Three others were said to have been captured. Ali Mohamed Moalin, an elder from the area, said "two military helicopters" were involved as well as "some foreign special forces". "There are five dead bodies of innocent farmers who have been killed by the special forces last night," said Moalin.

Daily Beast published a detailed account of the attack, highlighting the complexity surrounding US military activity in Somalia. "Five locals were injured by the Somali commandos and at some point during a firefight with people whose identities no one could agree upon, five local people were killed," journalist Christina Goldbaum wrote. To read the whole story, click here.

The US said the raid took place near Bulcida, which is reportedly on the outskirts of Afgoye. APF also placed it near Afgoye. The Daily Beast and Garowe Online report the raid occurred in Ma'alinka village near Bariire, which was the site of a deadly raid in August. Bariire is close to Afgoye.

SOM094 link

16 April 2018

US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab militants on April 16 near Leego, an Africa Command spokesperson told the Bureau. 

"No terrorists were killed and no equipment was destroyed in this strike," the spokesperson said. 

Leego is described by VOA as a strategic town in the Lower Shabelle region, located 120 kilometers from Mogadishu. Al Shabaab fighters retook the town in August last year.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Leego
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email, VOA

SOM093 link

11 April 2018

US forces carried out an air strike destroying an al-Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device on the afternoon of April 11, a US Africa Command press release stated. 

The strike hit near Jana Cabdalle, which local news places in Kismayo. It was not clear if any one was killed in the strike. 

The press release stated:

US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting terrorists, their training camps, and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region.
  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Jana Cabdalle, Kismayo
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email, Mareeg News 

SOM092 link

5 April 2018

  • 3 reported killed

US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab near Jilib in the afternoon of April 5 killing three "terrorists" and destroying a vehicle with a mounted heavy machine gun, US Africa Command said in a press release.

They assessed no civilians were killed in this strike. 

"US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect US citizens and to disable terrorist threats," the press release said.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Jilib, Middle Juba Region 
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM091 link

1 April 2018

  • 2-5 reported killed
  • Possible civilian casualties

A US strike in the afternoon of April 1 killed five al Shabaab fighters and destroyed a vehicle near El Burr, US Africa Command said in a statement.

Two Somali intelligence officials meanwhile told AP that the strike hit a vehicle carrying senior al Shabaab officials and the dead included a woman. 

There were some reports of civilian casualties. An al Shabaab statement reported in the local media said two prominent local elders, Ali Hared and Yusuf Dhegay, were killed. All Africa also reported the death of a woman, but it was unclear if she had been included in the al Shabaab statement. The news site however said the strike took place on April 2, not April 1. 

New Arab said that pro-al Shabaab media outlets reported two civilian deaths, referencing senior commanders of the group. Sources in the area also told All Africa that a drone fired a missile which hit a convoy carrying civilians, but no additional details were given. 

US Africa Command said it assessed that no civilians were killed in the strike. 

The strike, according to All Africa, took place in Da'ar, an al Shabaab controlled area around 20 kilometres from El Burr. El Burr is in the semi-autonomous region of Galmudug.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: El Burr, Galmudug region 
  • References:The New Arab, All Africa, Xinhua, US Africa Command press release via email

SOM090 link

19 March 2018

  • 2 reported killed
  • 3 reported injured

The US carried has carried out ten strikes since the start of the year, a US Africa Command spokesperson confirmed to the Bureau at the start of April. We had recorded only six strikes. The spokesperson provided details on the strikes we had not recorded. 

One of these hit on March 19. "US forces conducted an airstrike against al Shabaab on the morning of March 19 in the vicinity of Mubaarak, Somalia, killing two terrorists, wounding three terrorists, and destroying one vehicle," the spokesperson said.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Mubaarak, Lower Shabelle region 
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM089 link

13 March 2018

  • 12 reported killed
  • 15 reported injured

The US carried has carried out ten strikes since the start of the year, a US Africa Command spokesperson confirmed to the Bureau at the start of April. We had recorded only six strikes based on press releases from the Command. The spokesperson provided details on the strikes we had not recorded. 

One of these took place on March 13 and targeted al Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of Jamecco.  

"We assess at this time that 12 terrorists were killed in this strike and that 15 were wounded," the spokesperson said.  

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Jamecco, Middle Shabelle region
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM088 link

12 March 2018

The US carried has carried out ten strikes since the start of the year, a US Africa Command spokesperson confirmed to the Bureau at the start of April. We had recorded only six strikes based on press releases from the Command. The spokesperson provided details on the strikes we had not recorded. 

The second took place on March 12 and targeted al Shabaab fighters in the vicinity of Kamsuuma. However, due to unanticipated cloud cover, the strike was aborted in mid-air. The spokesperson said this was still included in their official strike count. 

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Kamsuuma, Lower Juba region
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM087 link

26 February 2018

  • 2 reported killed
  • 1 reported injured

US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab fighters in Jilib, killing two members of the group and injuring one other, according to a US Africa Command press release.

Shabelle Media Network had reported a strike carried out by unknown forces, but said this occurred the day before the strike confirmed by Africom. Sources told them it hit an al Shabaab controlled town. One resident said a militant camp was targeted in the district of Jilib, described as an al Shabaab strong-hold in the Middle Shabelle region. Jilib appears to be both a district and a town.

Jilib was the site of another US strike on February 19.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Jilib, Middle Juba Region 
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email, Shabelle Media Network 

SOM086 link

21 February 2018

  • 4-5 reported killed, including 0-2 civilians

A US strike on al Shabaab killed four members of the group, according to a US Africa Command press release. The strike hit in the vicinity of Jamaame, in Somalia's Lower Juba region. 

"I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by US drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground," a Somali government official told VOA Somali. 

Some sources said two of those killed in the rickshaw were civilians travelling with three militants. US Africa Command has said they assessed no civilians killed in the strike. We have recorded 0-2 civilians in our casualty range to reflect the possibility of civilian casualties. 

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Jamaame, Lower Juba region
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email, VOA

SOM085 link

19 February 2018

  • 3 reported killed

Three members of Al Shabaab were killed in a US strike, US Africa Command has said.

The strike took place in in the vicinity of Jilib, a town in Somalia's Middle Juba Region.  

Africom said it has assessed that no civilians were killed in the strike. 

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Jilib, Middle Juba Region 
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM084 link

6 February 2018

The US carried has carried out ten strikes since the start of the year, a US Africa Command spokesperson confirmed to the Bureau at the start of April. We had recorded only six strikes. The spokesperson provided details on the strikes we had not recorded. 

The first took place on February 6 in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow. The target was an al-Shabaab fighter, but Africa Command said it assessed zero "terrorists" killed in the strike.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strikes
  • Location: Kunyo Barrow, Lower Shabelle region
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email

SOM083 link

18 January 2018

  • 0-5 reported killed, including children
  • 0-6 reported injured

The US confirmed it accompanied Somali troops in a mission that rescued 30 boys from an al Shabaab indoctrination centre in the Lower Shabelle region. However, during the rescue attempt, fire from Somali forces killed some people believed to under the age of 18. Those killed had been firing at the Somali soldiers leading them to respond, according to US Africa Command. 

"US personnel were in an advisory capacity, and did not fire their weapons," an Africom statement said.  

A team of US Special Operations Forces advised local Somali troops during the raid on the camp in the Middle Shabelle region of Somalia, a US military official told CNN. A Somali intelligence official told AP it took place in the region's Jame’o village. A local commander was among the dead, he said. 

On the same day, US forces launched a strike which killed four al Shabaab members, according to US Africa Command. The strike is recorded in the entry below. 

We have added the raid into our database, which records US operations in Somalia. From the US account, the deaths that occurred in this raid resulted from Somali fire. We have therefor recorded at 0-5 deaths, reflecting the US line but also reflecting other possibilities.

  • Type of strike: Ground operation - Somali-led or joint operation
  • Location: Lower Shabelle region
  • References: AP, CNN, Somalia Update, US Africa Command via email 

SOM082 link

18 January 2018

  • 4 reported killed

US forces carried out a strike against al Shabaab, killing four members of the group, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

The strike occurred 50 kilometres northwest of Kismayo. No civilians were killed in the strike, it said. 

No additional details were provided.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: 50 kilometres northwest of Kismayo
  • References: US Africa Command press release via email 

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