Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

An MQ-9 Reaper drone flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan.

An MQ-9 Reaper drone flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (Photo: Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt, U.S. Air Force)

US Killing Civilians With 'Impunity' in Hidden War on Somalia: Report

"The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law."

Eoin Higgins

A human rights group is accusing the United States of waging a shadow air war in Somalia that is killing civilians with abandon. 

Amnesty International issued its findings on the African war Tuesday evening in a report titled The Hidden US War in Somalia (pdf).

The U.S. has been covertly engaging in conflicts in Somalia for decades, but in April 2017, the Donald Trump administration upped airstrikes and attacks targeted at the rebel group Al-Shabaab.

The human rights advocacy group studied five of more than 100 strikes on Somalia over the past two years and found that 14 civilians were killed in the attacks. Eight others were injured, the report says.

"These five incidents were carried out with Reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle," Amnesty said in a press release, "a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu."

The U.S. military denied to Amnesty that any civilians have been killed as a result of American operations in Somalia.

However, Amnesty's report claims its methodology is sound and that the evidence is overwhelming. 

"The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law," the organization said, "and some may amount to war crimes."

In comments provided to the media, Brian Castner, the group's senior crisis advisor on arms and military operations, claimed that the continued airstrikes are also a sign of the Trump administration's aggressive use of military action across the world.

"The civilian death toll we've uncovered in just a handful of strikes suggests the shroud of secrecy surrounding the US role in Somalia's war is actually a smokescreen for impunity," Castner said.

Amnesty is calling for an official government investigation into the killings and airstrikes and urging people to add their name to a petition to Congress to force action. Ella Knight, an Amnesty researcher concentrating on military, security and police, said that pushing for oversight is key. 

"The U.S. government must ensure investigations into all credible allegations of civilian casualties are carried out with accountability for those responsible for violations and reparation made to the victims and survivors," said Knight.

The mission doesn't end with U.S. and Somali accountability, Knight added. She argued it's the responsibility of both governments to make it easier and safer for communities affected by the war to publicly acknowledge civilian casualties.

"Both the US and Somali governments need to put an end the lack of transparency and must do more to enable affected communities to self-report civilian casualties," Knight said. "Without this, justice is likely to remain elusive."

 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Judy Blume, Mo Willems Among 1,300 Children's Authors to Condemn 'Wave of Book Suppression'

"Reading stories that reflect the diversity of our world builds empathy and respect for everyone's humanity."

Kenny Stancil ·


Now Do Windfall Tax, Say Climate Groups After Passage of Big Oil Price Gouging Bill

"Voters will reward politicians who stand up for people, not polluters," said one campaigner, "and taxing windfall profits is wildly popular in every part of the country."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez: Maloney Should Quit DCCC Post If He Runs Against Mondaire Jones

"It's completely inappropriate" for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to be in charge of the House Democrats' campaign arm "if he's going to challenge another member," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Kenny Stancil ·


War, Disasters Drive 'All-Time High' of Nearly 60 Million Displaced in Home Nations

The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council noted the situation "is phenomenally worse than even our record figure suggests" because it does not include those forced to flee Russia's assault on Ukraine.

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Climate Movement Warns Nations Have Just 6 Months to End Fossil Fuel Finance

"The pandemic has shown that governments can rapidly mobilize massive sums of public money," says one campaigner. "This is the moment to do it, and accelerate the transition."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo