Civilian Casualty Report
** U.S. Africa Command takes all reports of civilian casualty seriously and maintains processes to conduct thorough assessments using all available information that may factor into findings. Please include the date and location of the incident, as well as any other details that can help the assessment. If you don't have an e-mail address, ensure a phone number is provided so we can reach you:
Airstrikes: U.S. Africa Command strike protocol, assessment of civilian casualty allegations, and historical record of strikes conducted in Libya and Somalia.
In the latest quarterly civilian casualty assessment report period ending Dec. 31, 2021, U.S. Africa Command received no new reports of civilian casualties and no open reports were carried over from previous quarters. There are currently no assessments open or under review.
This is the eighth quarterly civilian casualty assessment report since U.S. Africa Command began releasing reports in April 2020 as part of its commitment to increased transparency and accountability.
On Jan. 27, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a memorandum directing the Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMRAP). The CHMRAP will advance our ongoing efforts to improve the Department the Defense (DoD)’s approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, and will inform completion of a forthcoming DoD Instruction (DoDI) on Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response.
“Protecting innocent civilians remains a vital part of our operations and promotes a more secure and stable Africa,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “We have a moral obligation to ensure our processes do everything possible to mitigate civilian harm.”
U.S. Africa Command takes all reports of possible civilian casualties seriously and has a process to conduct thorough assessments using all available information. The command will continue to maintain and improve the civilian casualty assessment program and remains committed to reviewing and assessing any reports of civilian harm. This report reflects updates to previous unsubstantiated civilian casualty claims released in prior quarterly civilian casualty assessment reports.
Related Publication: Department of Defense memo on Improving Civilian Harm and Mitigation Response
U.S. Africa Command Civilian Casualty Assessment Updates
This report reflects updates to previously released quarterly civilian casualty assessment reports.
Initial U.S. Africa Command Civilian Casualty Assessment Quarterly Report
(Unsubstantiated) March 18, 2019, AFRICOM received two allegations from an online media source claiming between three to four (3-4) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Afgooye, Somalia, on March 18, 2019.
Update: The Command has read Amnesty International's investigation and does not contest or challenge that these individuals were farmers or worked for Hormuud. Through multiple methods, both prior to and following the strike, we have concluded they were al-Shahaab operatives. During this operation AFRICOM intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets followed a white SUV with one occupant that originated from an al-Shabaab controlled village. During the surveillance, ISR assets observed stops at three al-Shabaab checkpoints positively identified by al-Shabaab flags and activity consistent with al-Shabaab checkpoints. During stops at each checkpoint the initial occupant exited the vehicle, interacted with al-Shabaab members, and picked up two additional adult males who were also positively identified as al-Shabaab members. After driving through a fourth positively identified al-Shabaab checkpoint, U.S. forces maintained continuous surveillance of the vehicle until the strike. Multiple conflicting Somalia media reporting, and the statement from Hormuud
Telecommunications stating that none of their employees were killed in a strike in this area, further diminishes the CIVCAS claim. U.S. ISR assets maintained continuous surveillance until completion of the strike mitigating the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties.
U.S. Africa Command Civilian Casualty Assessment Quarterly Report; Third Quarter, 2020
February 24, 2020 (Unsubstantiated) USAFRICOM received five allegations from online media sources and social media accounts claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on February 24, 2020.
Update: U.S. Africa Command stands by the targeted airstrike that killed al-Shabaab commander, Mohamud Salad who led coordinated attacks against partner forces in the region. After positively identifying Mohamud Salad, U.S. ISR assets maintained continuous surveillance until completion of the strike. Battle damage assessment of the strike confirmed the Mohamud Salad was unaccompanied when hit by a U.S. airstrike. A series of reporting compiled over the course of several years clearly detail a Mohamud Salad's direct role in al-Shabaab operations in the region.
U.S. Africa Command Civilian Casualty Assessment Quarterly Report; 1st Quarter, 2021
(Unsubstantiated) Between March 10, 2020, and April 1, 2020, U.S. Africa Command received multiple reports from various sources stating between four (4) and ten (10) civilians were killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Janaale, Somalia that occurred on March 10, 2020. Related CIVCAS report: https://www.africom.mil/pressrelease/33610/us-africa-command-civilian-casualty-assessment-quarterly-report-1st-quarter-2021
Update: U.S. Africa Command tracked a vehicle originating from an al-Shabaab compound. The vehicle traveled to a second known al-Shabaab compound, where five operatives exited and later re-entered the vehicle. U.S. ISR maintained continuous surveillance following the subsequent departure of the compound until the strike. U.S. ISR assets maintained continuous surveillance until completion of the strike mitigating the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties. Examination of the strike location in relation to Mogadishu confirmed the strike occurred on neither of the two prominent routes to Mogadishu. Instead the strike took place approximately 9 km north, on an alternate route, decreasing the likelihood that the vehicle was a taxi traveling to Mogadishu. Finally, during follow-on assessments U.S. Africa Command also discovered through evaluation of metadata, that the images used in the original civilian casualty report had also been used in previous civilian casualty reports by Radio Alfurqaan, diminishing the credibility of its reporting.
U.S. Africa Command Civilian Casualty Assessment Quarterly Report; 2nd Quarter, 2021
(Unsubstantiated) Jan. 19, 2021, U.S. Africa Command received one (1) report from an online media source claiming one (1) civilian was killed as a result of a U.S. airstrike in the vicinity of Jamaame, Somalia, on Jan. 19, 2021.
Update: U.S. Africa Command stands by the targeted airstrike that killed al-Shabaab commander, Mohamed Abbas Ahmed Dirshe, who planned and coordinated attacks against partner forces in the region. A series of intelligence reports dating back to 2018 clearly detail his direct role in al-Shabaab including the planning and execution of al-Shabaab operations in the region.
Discrepancies between U.S. Africa Command civilian casualty assessments and NGO Reports
U.S. Africa Command’s assessment of reports of civilian casualties occasionally differ from other organizations, including Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) for a number of reasons. The command’s information is based on reliable and layered intelligence sources and classified operational reporting which are not available to the public. This can contribute to perceived discrepancies between the command’s results and those of others.
Definition of “civilian” and “combatant”
Consistent with the Department of Defense Law of War Manual, “civilian” and “combatant” are defined as follows:
Civilian: Persons who are not combatants (members of military/security forces or members of either a declared hostile force or an organized armed group of a party to an armed conflict). Civilians may lose their protection against attacks if demonstrating hostile intent, engaging in a hostile act, or for such time as they take direct part in hostilities; but they retain or regain such protection when they cease said conduct, or if they become wounded, sick, detained, or surrender, and thereby are unable to continue said conduct. All personnel in the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility received the protections of civilian status, unless they are positively identified as legitimate military targets.
Combatant: Persons directly participating in an armed conflict, or persons whose hostile actions have purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the U.S. individuals who are formally or functionally part of a non-State armed group that is engaged in hostilities may be made the object of attack because they likewise share in their group’s hostile intent.
U.S. Africa Command Quarterly Civilian Casualty Assessment Report
Summary of Results
There were no new completed assessments, all open assessments were closed out in the previous quarterly report.
Note: Where reports of civilian casualties are determined to be unsubstantiated, it means there was insufficient information to validate or substantiate the reports. When new information is received, a report of civilian casualties can be reassessed. Until that occurs, the assessment is considered complete.
There are currently no open incidents.