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 28
Total people killed 249-259
Civilians reported killed 0-6
Children reported killed 0-1
People reported injured 0

Strikes

SOM147 link

18 March 2019

  • 3-7 reported killed
  • 0-4 civilians reported killed

The US military carried out an airstrike in Awdheegle in the lower Shabelle region, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

Three terrorists were reported to have been killed in the strike.

US Africa Command stated that they were aware of reports that alleged civilian harm as a result of this strike. They noted:

As with any allegation 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.

We believe that these allegations of civilian harm came from a Reuters reporter who spoke to a relative of someone who died in a strike in Afgoye.

These are the only allegations of civilian harm that we have seen for a strike on this date, but it should be noted that Afgoye is 47km away from Awdheegle.

Abdiqadir Nur, an employee of the telecommunications company "Hormuud Telecom" died alongside three others at 04:30 local time as they drove through the village of Laanta Buuro, Reuters reported.

SOM146C link

16 March 2019

  • 22 reported killed

A joint US and Somali Special Forces air and ground offensive killed 22 al Shabaab fighters, according to Mareeg Media.

Military officials who asked Mareeg to remain anonymous told them that the operation was conducted in the Jilib Marka area.

Abu Sheikh Yasin Mohamed and Abu Mohamed Hamza, two senior al Shabaab commanders, were reportedly killed in the operation.

Mareeg did not provide a date for the airstrike, so we have recorded it as the date that they reported on it.

We are unable to record this strike in our database of confirmed US strikes due to vague sourcing.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Jilib Marka area, Marka town
  • References: Mareeg Media

SOM146 link

13 March 2019

  • 3 reported killed

The US military carried out an airstrike in Malayle, Lower Juba region, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

Somali National Security Forces were conducting a patrol in the region "in order to maintain pressure" on al Shabaab. During this mission, militants engaged the Security Forces patrol with small arms fire, the statement read.

US service members were not present on the ground during the operation.

The strike killed three militants and US Africa Command currently assess that no civilians were harmed during the attack.

SOM145 link

12 March 2019

  • 2 reported killed

The US military carried out an airstrike in the vicinity of Huley, lower Shabelle region, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

US Air Force Brig. Gen. William West, said “precision airstrikes like this remove al-Shabaab militants from the battlefield and support our partner’s efforts to increase pressure on the terrorist network".

The press release stated that the strike killed two terrorists and that US Africa Command currently assess that no civilian harm occurred as a result of the strike.

SOM144 link

11 March 2019

  • 8 reported killed

The US military carried out an airstrike on March 11 that killed eight terrorists, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

U.S. service members were also present during the ground operation in an advisory capacity.

The press release stated that the strike was in self-defence and was conducted in support of Somali-led ground forces that came under attack from militants.

News site, Mareeg, reported that "al Shabaab has claimed to have foiled an attack by Somali forces, backed by US soldiers overnight".

Al Shabaab have claimed that one US soldier was killed and two others were injured during the "botched raid" - however the US deny this, stating that all US service members are accounted for and unharmed.

US Africa Command currently assess that no civilians were killed or injured in the airstrike.

SOM143Cii link

8 March 2019

  • 8 reported killed

A US airstrike as part of a ground and air operation in the Gambole area has reportedly killed eight al Shabaab fighters, according to Mareeg Media.

Anonymous regional officials told Mareeg that following a "brief gun battle" between US forces and al Shabaab, an airstrike killed eight of the fighters.

Al Shabaab have reportedly denied losing any members in the offensive.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Gambole area, south Somalia
  • References: Mareeg Media

SOM143Ci link

7 March 2019

  • Unknown casualties

A possible US airstrike was conducted in the Bur Madow area, Bay region, according to Mareeg Media.

The report did not state how many were thought to have been killed in the strike.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Bur Madow area, Bay region, south west Somalia
  • References: Mareeg Media

SOM143C link

6 March 2019

  • Unknown casualties

A possible US airstrike has left "scores" of al Shabaab fighters dead, according to local media source, Mareeg Media.

A regional official who asked Mareeg to remain anonymous, told them that the strike destroyed al Shabaab's base in Buzer, west Somalia.

The report did not state how many were thought to have been killed in the strike.

It is unclear who carried out the bombing according to Mareeg, although they have reported it as a "suspected US airstrike".

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Buzer area, west Somalia
  • References: Mareeg Media

SOM143 link

28 February 2019

  • 26 reported killed

The US military carried out an airstrike in Somalia on February 28 that killed 26 terrorists, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

US Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, US Africa Command deputy director of intelligence, said in the press release:

Precision airstrikes such as this one maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and disrupt its planning cycle and degrade its ability to mass forces and coordinate attacks against the Somali people

US Africa Command currently assess that no civilians were killed or injured in the airstrike.

SOM142 link

25 February 2019

  • 20 reported killed

The US military carried out an airstrike in Somalia on February 25 that killed 20 terrorists, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

US Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, US Africa Command deputy director of intelligence, said in the press release:

This precision airstrike successfully targeted an encampment from which al-Shabaab could stage, coordinate, and execute attacks on Beledweyne

The training camp that was targeted was used as a staging area to facilitate attacks on Beledweyne in the Hiran region of Somalia.

US Africa Command currently assess that no civilians were harmed in the attack.

A vehicle was also destroyed in the airstrike.

SOM141 link

24 February 2019

  • 35 reported killed

The US military carried out an airstrike in Somalia on February 24, according to a press release from US Africa Command. The strike hit approximately 23 miles east of Beledweyne in the Hiran Region.

The airstrike targeted armed al Shabaab militants as they were transitioning between locations in a rural area.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, US Africa Command director of operations, stated in the press release:

In the case of this strike, we interrupted an Al Shabaab attempt to mass their forces. Precision strikes eliminated a potential threat to our partners and to the people of Somalia well before the terrorists ever got themselves organized.

US Africa Command have assessed that 35 terrorists were killed in this strike and no civilians were killed or injured.

SOM140 link

23 February 2019

  • 0-2 civilians reported killed, including 0-1 children

The US military announced four airstrikes on February 23 in a press release from US Africa Command. One of these airstrikes occurred in Janaale, 75 kilometres southwest of Mogadishu.

"These four airstrikes eliminated checkpoints and facilities used by al-Shabaab to collect illegal taxes to fund terrorist activities and to oppress the innocent people of Somalia," the statement read.

US Africa Command currently assess that no civilians were injured or killed in these strikes, but that two terrorists were. They did not specify whether it was the airstrikes in Janaale, or the other airstrikes that day that killed the two terrorists.

In an email, US Africa Command later stated that the two terrorists were killed in the airstrike that hit Kunyow Barrow.

According to Mareeg Media, however, al Shabaab claimed that one of these four strikes killed a 20 day old child and his father. Whilst al Shabaab did not directly attribute responsibility for these deaths to the US, the strike locations that they gave were the same as the ones in the Africom press release.

We approached US Africa Command for clarification on this. They still assess that no civilian harm occurred as a result of this strike, stating:

U.S. Africa Command is aware the article alleging civilian casualties resulting from the February 23, 2019 airstrikes in Kunyow Barrow, Awdeegle, and Janaale, Somalia.
As with any allegation 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 then determine the next appropriate step. USAFRICOM complies with the law of armed conflict and takes all feasible precautions during the targeting process to minimize civilian casualties and other collateral damage.
At this time, we still assess no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.

SOM139 link

23 February 2019

  • 0-2 civilians reported killed, including 0-1 children

The US military announced four airstrikes on February 23 in a press release from US Africa Command. One of these airstrikes occurred in Awdeegle, 50 kilometres west of Mogadishu.

"These four airstrikes eliminated checkpoints and facilities used by al-Shabaab to collect illegal taxes to fund terrorist activities and to oppress the innocent people of Somalia," the statement read.

US Africa Command currently assess that no civilians were injured or killed in these strikes, but that two terrorists were. They did not specify whether it was the airstrikes in Awdeegle, or the other airstrikes that day that killed the two terrorists.

In an email, US Africa Command later stated that the two terrorists were killed in the airstrike that hit Kunyow Barrow.

According to Mareeg Media, however, al Shabaab claimed that one of these four strikes killed a 20 day old child and his father. Whilst al Shabaab did not directly attribute responsibility for these deaths to the US, the strike locations that they gave were the same as the ones in the Africom press release.

We approached US Africa Command for clarification on this. They still assess that no civilian harm occurred as a result of this strike, stating:

U.S. Africa Command is aware the article alleging civilian casualties resulting from the February 23, 2019 airstrikes in Kunyow Barrow, Awdeegle, and Janaale, Somalia.
As with any allegation 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 then determine the next appropriate step. USAFRICOM complies with the law of armed conflict and takes all feasible precautions during the targeting process to minimize civilian casualties and other collateral damage.
At this time, we still assess no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.

SOM138 link

23 February 2019

  • 2-4 reported killed
  • 0-2 civilians reported killed, including 0-1 children

The US military announced four airstrikes on February 23 in a press release from US Africa Command. Two of these airstrikes occurred in Kunyow Barrow, 250 kilometres southwest of Mogadishu.

"These four airstrikes eliminated checkpoints and facilities used by al-Shabaab to collect illegal taxes to fund terrorist activities and to oppress the innocent people of Somalia," the statement read.

US Africa Command currently assess that no civilians were injured or killed in these strikes, but that two terrorists were. They did not specify whether it was the airstrikes in Kunyow Barrow, or the other airstrikes that day that killed the two terrorists.

In an email, US Africa Command later stated that the two terrorists were killed in the airstrike that hit Kunyow Barrow.

According to Mareeg Media, however, al Shabaab claimed that one of these four strikes killed a 20 day old child and his father. Whilst al Shabaab did not directly attribute responsibility for these deaths to the US, the strike locations that they gave were the same as the ones in the Africom press release.

We approached US Africa Command for clarification on this. They still assess that no civilian harm occurred as a result of this strike, stating:

U.S. Africa Command is aware the article alleging civilian casualties resulting from the February 23, 2019 airstrikes in Kunyow Barrow, Awdeegle, and Janaale, Somalia.
As with any allegation 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 then determine the next appropriate step. USAFRICOM complies with the law of armed conflict and takes all feasible precautions during the targeting process to minimize civilian casualties and other collateral damage.
At this time, we still assess no civilians were injured or killed in these airstrikes.


SOM137 link

11 February 2019

  • 12 reported killed

The US military carried out two strikes in Somalia on February 11, according to a press release from US Africa Command. Both strikes hit in the vicinity of Janaale, in the Lower Shabelle Region.

"The airstrikes on February 11 were executed as Somali forces were leading an operation in an area where al Shabaab conducts terrorist activities, as well as exploits the local populace for illegal taxes," it said.

The first airstrike killed eight militants and the second airstrike killed four militants, the press release stated. Africa Command said that they assessed no civilians were injured or killed in either strike.

However, al Shabaab has reportedly claimed a strike in the area hit civilian homes. They did not say whether any civilians were killed.

We have reached out to Africa Command for comment on this.

SOM136 link

8 February 2019

  • 8 reported killed

The US military carried out a strike "targeting al Shabaab in the vicinity of Kobon" on February 8, US Africa Command said in a press release.

"This precision airstrike was executed to degrade al-Shabaab capabilities, reduce the threat against Somali partners, and prevent al-Shabaab from plotting terror attacks throughout the region," the press release read.

US Africa Command stated that they currently do not assess there to have been any civilian harm.

AP have reported that the strike "killed eight al-Shabab extremists", however this is not in the press release from the US military. They did however later confirm this in an email to the Bureau.


SOM135 link

7 February 2019

  • 4 reported killed

The US announced two strikes in a press release. The first is recorded below. This entry records the second.

US Africa Command stated that the strike had killed four militants and that they currently assessed that no civilian harm had occurred.

The press release stated:

This precision airstrike was executed after our Somali partners were engaged by al-Shabaab militants as they conducted an operation to disrupt al-Shabaab efforts to illegally tax and intimidate civilians in the area.

SOM134 link

6 February 2019

  • 11 reported killed

The US announced two strikes in a press release. The first hit on February 6.

US Africa Command said that the strike killed 11 militants and "at this time, it was assessed no civilians were injured or killed".

"Precision airstrikes such as these support Somali security forces efforts to protect the Somali people from terrorism while creating opportunities for increased governance to take hold," the press release stated.


SOM133 link

5 February 2019

  • Unknown casualties

The US announced two strikes in a press release. The first is recorded in the entry below. The second hit on February 5. No casualty estimate was given.

"These precision airstrikes support Somali partners’ ongoing efforts to reduce al Shabaab safe havens, degrade the terrorists’ infrastructure, and destroy terrorist equipment," the press release stated.

SOM132 link

3 February 2019

  • Unknown casualties

The US announced two strikes in a press release. The first hit on February 3. No casualty estimate was given.

The strike hit Gandarshe, the location of a strike just two days earlier.

"These precision airstrikes support Somali partners’ ongoing efforts to reduce al Shabaab safe havens, degrade the terrorists’ infrastructure, and destroy terrorist equipment," the press release stated.

SOM131 link

1 February 2019

  • 13 reported killed

A US strike killed 13 al Shabaab fighters on February 1, according to a US Africa Command press release.

It was carried out in the vicinity of Gandarshe, Lower Shabelle Region.

The press release stated:

Al-Shabaab has previously used Gandarshe, 30 miles southwest of Mogadishu, as a staging area for attacks including vehicle borne improvised explosive devices that threaten the capital and its residents. On December 15 and 16, six U.S. airstrikes killed 62 al-Shabaab militants near Gandarshe, who were preparing for an attack on a Somali government military base in the region, and recently, a U.S. airstrike killed 24 militants in neighboring Hiran Region on January 30.

SOM130 link

30 January 2019

  • 24 reported killed

The US military carried out a strike near a "terrorist encampment location" in Somalia on January 30, US Africa Command said in a press release.

The strike killed 24 fighters, it said.

"The SNA [Somali National Army] and its partners will continue to effectively target terrorist training camps and assessed safe havens in order to deny al Shabaab the ability to build capacity and attack the people of Somalia," the press release read.

SOM129 link

23 January 2019

  • Unknown casualties

The US military carried out two strikes targeting al Shabaab militants near Jilib in the Middle Juba Region on January 23, according to a press release from US Africa Command.

While the command said no civilians were injured or killed in these strikes, they didn't include any details on other casualties. An Africom spokesperson told the Military Times those details are now up to Somalia’s government to share.

We asked Africom to explain this further. They responded with the following:

We constantly review our reporting practices to ensure we provide the most pertinent information available that resonates with US and international audiences. This review includes an analysis of what resonates with media in its coverage of US Africa Command through our press releases and interviews.
Because we are looking for better ways to communicate the strategic importance of our operations in support of our partners, we may not always lead with casualty numbers in our initial release. We also may be assessing the results of the strike and may not have complete information before we publish the press release. In those cases, we will provide casualty figures in response to query.

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