Somalia theater of 28 US air raids against al-Shabaab militants

US forces have intensified an onslaught against Al Shabaab in recent weeks. Photo : AFP

NEWSROOM (ADV) – The United States military said Friday it has conducted 28 airstrikes in Somalia in 2019 compared to 47 in 2018 and 35 in 2017 as part of increased efforts to degrade extremist group, al-Shabab.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said its commander directed the review of the airstrikes conducted in Somalia since 2017 due to a recent increase in airstrikes and continued interest by human rights group and Congress on civilian casualties.

Africom which conducts military strikes in coordination with the Somali government said its review revealed that two civilians were killed in an airstrike on April 1, 2018.

“Credibility, transparency, and accountability are fundamental to military operations. It is critically important that people understand we adhere to exacting standards and when we fall short, we acknowledge shortcomings and take appropriate action,” Thomas D. Waldhauser, Africom commander, said in a statement.

Waldhauser said the April 2018 airstrike was designed to degrade the al-Shabab terrorist group near El Burr, Somalia where four militants were also killed.

The U.S. military said it was notified about the results of a post-strike internal assessment conducted in April 2018 that found credible evidence of the two civilian casualties.

“Unfortunately, the finding was not properly reported to U.S. Africa Command headquarters,” it said, adding that it committed to transparency in its reporting of civilian casualties.

“While believed to be an isolated occurrence, the reporting error is being addressed,” it added, noting that the Somali government was notified of two civilian deaths.

Africom said it takes prudent measures to minimize civilian casualties and fully complies with the law of armed conflict, adding that it puts measures in place to ensure the safety and protection of the local population remains a top priority.

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