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 14 2
Total people killed 44-48 0-10
Civilians reported killed 0-5 0-5
Children reported killed 0 0-5
People reported injured 19 0-6

Strikes

SOM096 link

22 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 that a raid by US and Somali forces killed five civilians. The Somali government has denied the allegations but US Africa Command has said it is reviewing information on the incident. 

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.

“They were not armed nor were they al-Shabab members,” Ibrahim Ahmed, who said he was a family member of one man killed, told Associated Press. “I don’t understand why a farm would make a target for a raid,” he added.

Abdiaziz Hildhiban, Somalia's security minister spokesperson, said that only "enemy fighters" were shot dead and that troops had removed an imminent threat from Mogadishu. A district police official was reported in AFP saying security forces were investigating the allegations. 

The press release from Africa Command said:

US forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabaab's terrorist network near Bulcida, Somalia, May 9. 
We are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, and we take these reports seriously.  As with any allegations of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties. If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, USAFRICOM will determine the next appropriate step.

Garowe Online report the raid occurred in Ma'alinka village near Bariire, which was the site of a deadly raid in August. APF placed it near Afgoye. US Africa Command has said it occurred near Bulcida.

The bodies were reportedly taken to the capital. 

  • Type of strike: Ground operation - Somali-led operation
  • Location: Lower Shabelle region
  • References: AP, AFP, Garowe Garowe Online, US Africa Command via email 

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