News   /   Somalia

Amnesty: US behavior in Somalia can amount to war crimes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a boy walking past the site of a car bomb attack in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, March 7, 2019. (By AFP)

"The Hidden US War in Somalia." That is what Amnesty International names its recent report on the United States' military involvement in Somalia that has witnessed a substantial rise in US airstrikes and "unlawful killings," which could well amount to "war crimes."

Since April 2017, the US "has dramatically increased the number of airstrikes - from manned aircraft and unmanned drones - it has launched in Somalia, tripling the annual rate of attacks," according to the report published on Wednesday.

The London-based rights group documented 14 civilians killed in just five airstrikes, in Lower Shabelle region, which its researchers investigated in detail.

The Pentagon has stepped up airstrikes against alleged positions of al-Shabab militants in the country in the wake of President Donald Trump’s approval in 2017 of expanded military operations there.

Al-Shabab, which has long sought to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government, was forced out of Mogadishu with the help of African Union forces in 2011. Despite being ousted from large parts of the south and central Somalia, the al-Qaeda-linked militant outfit, continues deadly attacks across the country, which has been ravaged by decades of war and poverty. 

"Members of the US government forces who planned and carried out the airstrikes may have committed violations of international humanitarian law, including unlawful killings, which could amount to war crimes," Amnesty said.

In reaction, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has rejected Amnesty’s report. It claims al-Shabab terrorists make up all the casualties.

"Since June 2017, AFRICOM conducted 110 airstrikes in Somalia, eliminating more than 800 terrorists," AFRICOM said in a statement, adding that "our assessments found that no AFRICOM airstrike resulted in any civilian casualty or injury."

Amnesty's military expert Brian Castner said “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."

"Our findings directly contradict the US military's mantra of zero civilian casualties in Somalia," Castner added.

On Monday, the US conducted an airstrike claiming the lives of an employee of mobile phone company Hormuud Telecoms and three unidentified passengers, a relative of one of the victims told Reuters on Tuesday.

AFRICOM claimed that three militants were killed in the attack. "We are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this airstrike... The US Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident."

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku