Somalia: Reported US actions 2019

The timeline below contains information on all US drone strikes and covert operations in Somalia recorded by the Bureau in 2019. 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 2018 timeline for Somalia can be found here, and 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 air and drone strikes Additional US attacks
Total strikes 5
Total people killed 26
Civilians reported killed 0
Children reported killed 0
People reported injured 0

Strikes

SOM128 link

19 January 2019

  • 52 reported killed

Over 50 al Shabaab fighters were killed in a US strike in Somalia on January 19, US Africa Command said in an email.

It said the strike was carried out in response to an attack by a large group of al Shabaab militants against Somali forces.

A Somali intelligence officer told the New York Times that the group had been amassing fighters for more than a week in attempts to launch a major attack against Somali and Kenyan forces and disrupt their planned offensive. The officer said some 400 militants, including foreign ones and suicide car bombers, had been prepared.

US Africa Command said it currently assessed that no civilians had been harmed in the strike.

SOM127 link

8 January 2019

  • 6 reported killed

The US military carried out a strike targeting an al Shabaab encampment on January 8th, a press release from US Africa Command read.

"The al Shabaab encampment served as a staging area for terrorists in the region," it stated.

Six members of the group were killed and a vehicle destroyed, with the command assessing no civilians were killed or injured in the strike.

SOM126 link

7 January 2019

  • 4 reported killed

The US military carried out two strikes targeting al Shabaab in Somalia on January 7, a press release from US Africa Command has said.

"The airstrikes were conducted in collective self-defense of our Somali partners after they were engaged by al Shabaab militants," it read.

Four fighters were killed, with the command saying that it currently assesses that no civilians were harmed in the strike.

It hit in the vicinity of Baqdaad, which Xinhua located in the Lower Juba region.

SOM125 link

6 January 2019

  • 6 reported killed

The US carried out a second strike in less than a week in the vicinity of Dheerow Sanle, in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region.

This strike hit on January 6, with US Africa Command saying it killed six militants and destroyed a vehicle.

"This airstrike was conducted to diminish al Shabaab’s freedom of movement and to increase pressure on the terrorist network in the area," Africom said.

“We remain fully committed to supporting the Federal Government of Somalia, its forces, and its partners in the fight against al Shabaab,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg P. Olson commented. “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US forces conduct precision airstrikes such as this to foil terrorist plans, eliminate al-Shabaab terrorists and reduce the enemy’s freedom of maneuver.”

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

SOM124 link

2 January 2019

  • 10 reported killed

US forces carried out a strike targeting al Shabaab on January 2, a US Africa Command press release stated.

They assess that the strike killed ten militants.

"This airstrike was conducted to diminish al Shabaab’s freedom of movement and to increase pressure on the terrorist network in the area," the press release stated.

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