U.S. Africa Command said forces supporting an operation Aug. 25 near Bariire, Somalia, killed only enemy combatants, as an explosive story by The Daily Beast raised questions as to whether local villagers were killed instead.
“After a thorough assessment of the Somali National Army-led operation near Bariire, Somalia, on Aug. 25, 2017 and the associated allegations of civilian casualties, U.S. Special Operations Command Africa has concluded that the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants,” AFRICOM said in a release.
The statement came out just after The Daily Beast reported from Mogadishu that it had interviewed survivors and at least one of the Somali National Army commanders in charge of of the operation and concluded that the incident, which they said left one child and nine other civilians dead, would be the “largest stain on U.S. ground operations in the country” since 1993.
The detailed piece, which interviews farmers who said they were unarmed and forced to look at the dying bodies of their neighbors as U.S. special forces stood watch, is not true, a defense official said Wednesday.
But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the two-paragraph statement released from AFRICOM on Wednesday is not sufficient.
The military’s investigation into the incident, which has concluded, is classified and its findings cannot be released, the official said.
“I think we still owe a few more answers to the public to refute those claims” raised by the article, the official said, noting that the Pentagon is looking into ways to address the concerns raised by the article.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."