Pentagon Finally Admits It Killed Allies, Not al-Shabaab, in Somalia
November 12, 2016
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Warren Strobel / Reuters
More than six weeks after the US mounted a deadly airstrike in Somalia's semi-autonomous Galmudug Province, the Pentagon has confessed that the victims were not al-Shabaab militants but ten members of the provincial government the US was supposed to be assisting. The Pentagon attributed the deaths to a case of mistaken identity in a "self-defense" operation.
Pentagon Admits Somalia Strike
Killed Allies, Not al-Shabaab
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 10, 2016) -- A late September US airstrike in Somalia's semi-autonomous Galmudug Province killed a number of soldiers with the provincial militia, according to the provincial government. The Pentagon is just now coming around to admitting that this was the case.
The Pentagon had initially presented the attack as killing al-Shabaab Islamists, but today conceded that 10 "local militia" fighters were killed and three wounded. They attributed the incident to a case of mistaken identity in a "self-defense" operation.
There are some holes in this story, not the least of which is that the province reported 22 soldiers killed in the attack, and the US only copped to 10 of them. The Galmudug Security Minister had accused the Puntland provincial government of lying to the US about the targets, something the Pentagon report did not mention.
The Pentagon report appeared to largely shrug the incident off, insisting the attack was conducted "lawfully" and insisting that no US forces were killed or injured in the strikes.
US Airstrike Killed 22 Soldiers
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 28, 2016) -- The Pentagon claimed an overnight airstrike against Somalia killed a number of al-Shabaab fighters, but according to Somalia's autonomous Galmudug Province Security Minister Osman Issa, the strike actually ended up hitting a number of Somali troops, killing 22.
According to Issa, it wasn't a mistake on the US warplanes' part, but rather a plot by the autonomous region of Puntland. He claimed the strike was called in by Puntland officials who falsely told the US that the soldiers were actually al-Shabaab.
The Pentagon didn't want confirm or deny this, but did say they were "looking into" the reports that the strike had killed someone other than militants. The only other source to claim the slain were al-Shabaab was the Puntland government.
The whole incident reflects a very serious complicating factor of the US airstrikes in Somalia: that the myriad different factions on the ground that are nominally anti-Shabaab are often bigger rivals of one another, and are eager to use the US as a tool to further other disputes.
US Air Strike in Somalia
Killed Local Militia, Not al Shabaab
Warren Strobel / Reuters
WASHINGTON (November 10, 2016) -- A September US air strike in Somalia killed local militia forces and not al Shabaab militants as the Pentagon had initially believed, the US military acknowledged in a draft statement obtained by Reuters on Thursday.
The Sept. 28 strike in Somalia's Galkayo area killed 10 fighters and wounded three, the statement said. No civilian casualties were caused by the strike, it said.
Somalia's government had asked the United States to explain the strike, which it said had been conducted against forces of the semi-autonomous, northern region of Galmudug.
The errant strike illustrated the perils of Washington's efforts to battle al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-aligned group, by working with armed Somali factions that are often feuding.
Shabaab has been responsible for numerous attacks, including the September 2013 siege of Kenya's Westgate shopping mall that left at least 67 dead.
The day after the Sept. 28 US strike in Somalia, officials in Galmudug accused a rival region, Puntland, of duping the United States into believing members of its security forces were in fact Islamist rebels.
An al Shabaab spokesman told Reuters at the time it did not have any fighters in the area of the strike.
The draft statement by the US military's Africa Command said the air strike was carried out at the request of Puntland Security Forces "and our own assessment of the situation."
A PSF-led patrol had come under attack by a group of armed fighters and in response, "the US conducted a self-defense strike to neutralize the threat, killing 10 armed fighters and wounding three others," the statement said.
A review of the strike, which began Oct. 4, determined that "The armed fighters were initially believed to be al-Shabaab but with further review it was determined they were local militia forces," it said.
"Operating under legal authorities, US forces lawfully utilized self-defense to support the PSF in response to hostile actions conducted by the armed group against a partnered force," the review concluded. "No US forces were killed or injured as a result of this incident."
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.