U.S. army denies killing civilians in Somalia airstrikes
20 Mar 2019, 21:25 ( 1 Month ago)
The U.S. army on Wednesday said no civilians have been killed in its airstrikes in support of the international effort to defeat al-Shabab fighters and help alleviate security challenges in Somalia.
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which conducts U.S. military strikes in Somalia in coordination with the Somali government, said it takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously regardless of their origin.
"AFRICOM complies with the law of armed conflict and takes all feasible precautions to minimize civilian casualties and other collateral damage," it said in a statement.
The statement comes after 14 civilians were allegedly killed and eight others injured during five U.S. airstrikes in Somalia in the last two years.
However, Africom denied the allegations, noting that no civilians have been killed in its strikes meant to secure the internationally-backed government.
"We believe the report does not accurately reflect Africom's record in mitigating civilian casualties. In fact, Africom goes to extraordinary lengths to reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties, exercising restraint as a matter of policy," said the US army.
Africom said it will use all effective and appropriate methods to protect the Somali people, including partnered military counter-terror operations with the Somali government, security forces and AMISOM.
The U.S. military said it has conducted 110 airstrikes in Somalia since June 2017, eliminating more than 800 terrorists, stressing that the airstrikes are primarily conducted in secluded and low-populated areas.
"We have processes in place to ensure the safety and protection of the local population remains a top priority. These procedures, combined with precision strike capabilities, safeguard civilians and infrastructure," Africom said.