A report investigating the United States role in Somalia and civilian deaths believed tied to U.S. air strikes – deaths denied by the U.S. military – suggests there is credible evidence of those deaths and they may constitute war crimes.
The Hidden U.S. War in Somalia, released by Amnesty International on Wednesday, details how 14 civilians were killed and eight more injured in just five of what they say are more than 100 strikes in the past two years.
“These five incidents were carried out with Reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle, a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu,” Amnesty said. Such strikes continue to escalate under U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, with Amnesty claiming they surged after March 2017, tripled in number and now outpace those of Yemen or Libya.
When approached with Amnesty International’s findings, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) repeated its denial that any civilians have been killed in its operations in Somalia, the NGO said.
“The civilian death toll we’ve uncovered in just a handful of strikes suggests the shroud of secrecy surrounding the U.S. role in Somalia’s war is actually a smokescreen for impunity,” said Brian Castner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Advisor on Arms and Military Operations.
Amnesty held more than 150 interviews with eyewitnesses, victim relatives, and expert sources – including in the US military. The report is based on those interviews and corroborating imagery and physical evidence.
To learn more and access a copy of the report, see the Amnesty link here. A graphic story also is available.