The Hidden U.S. Air War in Somalia: Amnesty Accuses U.S. of Possible War Crimes for Civilian Deaths

Sgt. Reuben Hottel, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, reacts to a near ambush by opposition forces July 26 near Alicedale, South Africa during Shared Accord 13. Shared Accord is a biennial training exercise which promotes regional relationships, increases capacity, trains U.S. and South African forces, and furthers cross-training and interoperability.

Amnesty International is accusing the United States of covering up civilian casualties in its secretive air war in Somalia targeting the militant group al-Shabab. The U.S. has carried out over 100 strikes in Somalia since 2017. For years the Pentagon has claimed no civilians were being killed in the airstrikes, but the new Amnesty report found that at least 14 civilians were killed, and eight more were injured, in just five airstrikes. The overall civilian death toll is likely to be far higher. We speak with Brian Castner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser on arms and military operations. He helped write Amnesty’s report, titled “The Hidden US War in Somalia.”