In war, people die for absurd reasons or often no reason at all. They die due to accidents of birth, the misfortune of being born in the wrong place — Cambodia or Gaza, Afghanistan or Ukraine — at the wrong time. They die due to happenstance, choosing to shelter indoors when they should have taken cover outside or because they ventured out into a hell-storm of destruction when they should have stayed put. They die in the most gruesome ways — shot in the street, obliterated by artillery, eviscerated by air strikes. Their bodies are torn apart, burned, or vaporized by weapons designed to destroy people. Their deaths are chalked up to misfortune, mistake, or military necessity.
Since September 2001, the United States has been fighting its “war on terror” — what’s now referred to as this country’s “Forever Wars.” It’s been involved in Somalia almost that entire time. U.S. Special Operations forces were first dispatched there in 2002, followed over the years by more “security assistance,” troops, contractors, helicopters, and drones. American airstrikes in Somalia, which began under President George W. Bush in 2007, have continued under Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden as part of a conflict that has smoldered and flared for more than two decades. In that time, the U.S. has launched 282 attacks, including 31 declared strikes under Biden. The U.S. admits it has killed five civilians in its attacks. The UK-based air strike monitoring group Airwars says the number is as much as 3,100% higher.
On April 1, 2018, Luul Dahir Mohamed, a 22-year-old woman, and her 4-year-old daughter Mariam Shilow Muse were added to that civilian death toll when they were killed in a U.S. drone strike in El Buur, Somalia.
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