US Forces in Yemen

Mabkhout Ali al Ameri with his 18-month old son Mohammed, shortly after a botched US raid on al Ghayil in January 2017 had killed at least 20 villagers, including Mohammed's mother Fatim Saleh Mohsen. © Iona Craig

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
Yemen
start date
end date
Civilian Harm Status
Belligerent Assessment
Declassified Documents
Strike Status
Strike Type
Infrastructure

Incident Code

USYEMTr081-C

Incident date

April 30, 2017

Location

الجيف, Al Jayf, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.080000, 45.275556 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In an email to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US Central Command stated that a strike had targeted four “AQAP terrorists” in Marib governorate on April 29th 2017. This confirmed reports that a US drone strike had killed at least two alleged AQAP militants in Al Jayf area, Al Jubah district of Marib governorate, early on April 30th 2017.

Some sources claimed that at least two of those killed in the strike, possibly brothers, were members of the “Popular Resistance” from the Murad tribe, and were not members of AQAP.  According to later reporting on a separate incident (USYEMTr084-C) by The Intercept, a senior villager in the area said that two brothers killed in the strike “were not Al Qaeda but had been living alongside them”, raising the possibility that at least two of those killed were civilians.

The Intercept report stated that the two killed were the brothers of Murad al-Adhal, who survived a later US ground operation on May 23rd 2017 (USYEMTr084-C). According to this report, Murad left the targeted vehicle shortly before the strike took place. Dr Elisabeth Kendall, an academic, tweeted that a later AQAP statement named one of the dead brothers killed in the raid as Mohammed Sa’id Al-Adhal Al-Muradi.

A local tribesman told Nadwa Dawsari, for her report Foe Not Friend, that three members of the al-Adhal clan, part of the Murad tribe, had been recruited by AQAP, of whom one was killed in this strike. After the strike, Dawsari wrote, “tribal leaders asked the clan to take strict action against the two surviving men, giving them the option to leave AQAP or to leave the area. The leaders stated that if the men chose to remain with AQAP, their tribe would disown them. The two men reportedly decided to leave AQAP but feared that the group would target them, since it kills those who leave it after swearing allegiance. ‘If we stayed with the tribe, al-Qaeda will kill us. If we stay with al-Qaeda, the Americans will kill us,’ one reportedly said”. Both were reportedly killed by an alleged US special forces raid in May 2017 (USYEMTr084-C).

Some, including the Associated Press, reported that four people were killed in the strike, though most indicated that five had died. According to Yemenat, a local security official stated that five AQAP members were killed. Some sources suggested that one of those killed was an AQAP leader.

Several sources also reported that at least one of the dead had ties to Abdel Wahab Al-Hamayqani, an adviser to President Hadi and leader of the Salafi Rashad Party, who had sanctions imposed upon him by the US in 2013 due to alleged links to AQAP. Some suggested that his son was among the dead, while Almrasel and al Arabi reported that two of the victims were his brothers.

Most sources indicated that the strike took place at dawn on April 30th. According to al-Jazeera however, local news site Yemen Ajel had claimed that a drone had fired three consecutive missiles at 12:30am on April 30th.

Though most named the location as Marib, one source reported that the strike instead took place in Bayda governorate.  Yemenat and others indicated that the target was a car transporting weapons to Yakla, in Bayda governorate.

In its May 2018 annual civilian casualty report, the US Department of Defense stated that “there were credible reports of civilian casualties caused by U.S. military actions in Yemen against AQAP and ISIS during 2017”, but did not specify which specific actions these reports referred to.  Overall, the Department of Defense assessed that there were credible reports of “approximately 499 civilians killed and approximately 169 civilians injured during 2017”, as a result of US military actions in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

Responding to Airwars’ publication of its Yemen dataset and accompanying report in October 2020, CENTCOM dismissed all but two civilian harm claims under President Trump, asserting that “USCENTCOM conducted a thorough review of the information AirWars provided regarding allegations of potential civilian harm caused by USCENTCOM strikes in Yemen from 2017-2020… The bulk of the information asserted by AirWars, however, did not correspond with dates and locations of U.S. military strikes or raids in Yemen.   Other AirWars allegations either did not allege civilian harm or were not assessed as credible upon our review.”

The incident occured at approximately 12:30 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Mohammed Sa'id Al-Adhal Al-Muradi Adult male One of two brothers, for whom it was unclear whether they were civilian, AQAP militant, or non-AQAP militant killed
  • Brother of Mohammed Adult male Contested combatant status

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–5

Sources (30) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • Two civilians, reportedly brothers of the al-Adhal family, were allegedly killed in a US strike on April 30, 2017, in Marib, Yemen (@shbaabyemen, April 30th 2017)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck within the Al Jayf (الجيف) area, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.080000, 45.275556. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck within the Al Jayf (الجيف) area.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • Via email: U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) continues to focus on ways to minimize civilian casualties during its military operations. We assess or review all reports of civilian casualties because such assessments or reviews help us identify ways to improve our operations and counter misinformation and propaganda. We routinely share the results of every one of our assessments in Department of Defense (DoD) reports to Congress, including annual reports, many of which are publicly available. We also share the results of our assessments or reviews with the public via the USCENTCOM website and our statements to the media. Individuals wishing to understand U.S. military operations in Yemen more fully should consult these official sources of information. USCENTCOM conducted a thorough review of the information AirWars provided regarding allegations of potential civilian harm caused by USCENTCOM strikes in Yemen from 2017-2020. Of the information AirWars provided, one strike on September 14, 2017, was assessed to have caused injuries to two civilians. Also, as previously released by USCENTCOM to the public in February 2017, USCENTCOM acknowledged there may have been civilian casualties during a raid on January 29, 2017. The bulk of the information asserted by AirWars, however, did not correspond with dates and locations of U.S. military strikes or raids in Yemen. Other AirWars allegations either did not allege civilian harm or were not assessed as credible upon our review. Consistent with our mission, our authorities, and our obligations under the law of war, USCENTCOM will continue to conduct military actions in Yemen when required to protect the Nation and our allies and partners from al Qa’ida and ISIS terror cells that are committed to inflicting terror. In every strike and raid, we take careful measures to minimize civilian harm and take responsibility for our actions. When our military operations result in reports of civilian harm, we will continue to assess the credibility of such reports to help us identify ways to improve our operations and respond as appropriate.

Original strike reports

US Forces

U.S. forces conducted two strikes against AQAP in Yemen April 29. The first strike targeted three AQAP terrorists in Shabwah Governorate and the second strike was against four AQAP terrorists in Marib Governorate.

U.S. forces are conducting a series of sustained operations in Yemen against AQAP to degrade the group's ability to coordinate external terror attack operations and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen and use it as safe space for terror plotting.

Since Feb. 28, the U.S. has conducted more than 80 precision strikes against AQAP militants, infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment. We'll continue to conduct operations - including strikes - against known terrorists.

AQAP is one of the terrorist groups most committed to and capable of conducting attacks in America, as assessed by the intelligence and defense communities. In recent years, AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against America, its citizens and allies around the world.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–5

Sources (30) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr150

Incident date

March 4–5, 2018

Location

مديرية العبر, Al Abr District, Hadramout, Yemen

Geolocation

15.9137, 47.2288 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Up to four alleged AQAP militants, including a leadership figure, were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Zamakh and Manakh, in the Al Abr district of Hadramout governorate, between the evening of March 4th-5th 2018. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Late on March 5th, local language sources including @SkyNewsArabia_B and @Mukalla_now reported that four militants had been killed, including AQAP leadership figure Mabkhoot Al-Saeiri, in the Al Abr area.

Facebook user @mukallatgm3na stated that two strikes, including the attack on Al-Saeiri, had taken place on the evening of March 4th. This source further suggested that a total of four alleged militants had died across the two US drone strikes in the Al Abr area. As such, it is possible that the reported deaths of four militants reflects a total across both this event and USYEMTr151 (in which two were reportedly killed.) The minimum number of militant casualties in this strike has therefore been set at two.

Two sources, Elganob and @mukallatgm3na, indicated that the strike that had killed Al-Saeiri took place in the area of Zamakh and Manakh, near to Al Abr.  A later US Central Command press release erroneously listed “Zanakh” as a governorate in which at least one strike had been conducted between January and mid-May 2018.

The Yemen, quoting a source speaking to the Anatolia Agency, further suggested that four killed on March 5th were members of the Al-Muhashimah tribe, possibly referring to those killed in this strike and others in the same time frame.  The original Anatolia Agency report could not be found by Airwars.

A local security official told Xinhua that four AQAP militants had been killed by a US drone strike against “a moving vehicle” on March 6th. Given that no other known sources reported a unique strike on that day, this potentially reflects a late report of this strike and/or another reported strike at around the same time (USYEMTr151). This single-source allegation is also captured in a separate event (USYEMTr153).

A US Central Command spokesperson later told the Long War Journal that two US strikes had taken place in Hadramout on March 4th; and one on March 5th 2018. Since it was suggested that this strike took place on the evening of March 4th, this event has been treated as one of the declared March 4th strikes.

One source, @egl3000, posted an alleged image of the targeted vehicle, though an image from another source, @RepYemenEng, appeared to show the same vehicle from another angle. This second source suggested that the pictured vehicle had been targeted in another reported strike from around the same time (USYEMTr151).

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • Mabkhoot Al-Saeiri, an alleged AQAP leadership figure, was reportedly killed in the strike along with as many as three other alleged militants (@mukallatgm3na, March 5th 2018)
  • Mabkhoot Al-Saeiri, an alleged AQAP leadership figure, was reportedly killed in the strike along with as many as three other alleged militants (@mukallatgm3na, March 5th 2018)
  • Two images appeared to show the same vehicle, allegedly destroyed by a US strike. While this source claimed that the vehicle was destroyed in this event, another indicated that it was the target of another apparent US strike at around the same time. (@egl3000, March 6th 2018)
  • Two images appeared to show the same vehicle, allegedly destroyed by a US strike. This source, however, claimed that the image showed a car destroyed in another strike at around the same time. (@RepYemenEnglish, March 6th 2018)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Al Abr District (مديرية العبر) for which the generic coordinates are: 15.9137, 47.2288. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Al Abr District (مديرية العبر).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

In a major move toward transparency, US Central Command (CENTCOM) provided details to FDD’s Long War Journal on US air strikes against Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Since early 2017, the military previously provided little information on the Yemen air campaign, typically providing only an aggregate number and limited detail on high-value target strikes.
In an email to LWJ, CENTCOM’s Major Josh T. Jacques disclosed the dates and locations of the last five months of strikes in Yemen. The information revealed that since the beginning of 2018, the US campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen has focused on three governorates: Hadramout (eight strikes), Al Bayda (17), and Shabwa (three), demonstrating the eastern reach of the terrorist group.
Last year’s publicized strikes were concentrated in the central governorates of Al Bayda and Marib.
Location of US air strikes against AQAP and the Islamic State in 2018:
– Jan. 2018: Ten total strikes. The US conducted 8 strikes against AQAP in Bayda on Jan. 1, 3, 9, 12, 13, 20, 25, and 29. An additional strike against AQAP in Shabwah occurred on Jan. 26. An additional strike against the Islamic State occurred on Jan. 12 in Bayda.
– Feb. 2018: Six total strikes, all in Al Bayda governorate. Strikes occurred on Feb. 7, 11, 12, 16, and 24 (two strikes were conducted on Feb. 24).
– Mar. 2018: Seven total strikes, six of which occurred in Hadramout. Strikes occurred on Mar. 4 (two strikes), 5, 7, 8, and 13. An additional strike in Bayda occurred on March 29. [AQAP’s apparent entrenchment in eastern Yemen is concerning. In addition to the concentration of strikes in Hadramout, CENTCOM previously disclosed that AQAP operated training camps in the governorate as recently as April 2018, when they were targeted by American strikes.]
– Apr. 2018: Four total strikes, one each in Shabwah (April 26) and Al Bayda (April 23), and two in Hadramout (both on April 11).
– May 2018: One strike, in Shabwah on May 14.
– Jun. 2018: No strikes to date.
The US military has stepped up its counterterrorism campaign against al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen as well as the Islamic State since President Trump took office in 2017. Last year, the US launched 131 strikes (125 against AQAP and six against the Islamic State), nearly tripling the previous yearly high of 44 strikes in 2016.
At the current pace, the US will fall far short of that mark; there have been 28 strikes reported by CENTCOM in Yemen in the first five months of 2018.
This counterterrorism campaign has targeted AQAP’s infrastructure, including its training camps and media operations, which serve as a hub for al Qaeda’s global communications. The US has killed several mid-level AQAP leaders and media officials in its air campaign.
Despite suffering setbacks after seizing large areas of southern and central Yemen between 2015-2016, AQAP remains a persistent threat to both the embattled Yemeni government and US interests worldwide. AQAP still controls remote rural areas in Yemen and operates training camps. The group’s master bomb maker, Ibrahim al Asiri, who has engineered several bombs which have evaded airport security, remains one of the most wanted jihadists on the planet.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr022

Incident date

March 1–2, 2017

Location

جسيمة, Jasima, Bayda', Yemen

Geolocation

14.449335, 44.817596 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Multiple sources reported that US airstrikes targeted alleged AQAP militants in al-Jasima, in the Qaifa area of Bayda governorate, overnight from March 1st to March 2nd. Mareb Press reported that the strikes killed one and wounded another, apparently with reference to alleged militants. There were no known reports of civilian casualties.

The reported strikes were allegedly conducted in conjunction with other strikes in the Qaifa area, in Yakla and Jabal Novan.  According to local sources allegedly spoken with by Al Mawqea Post, US strikes in the Qaifa area continued from 4am until 7am, across many areas held by AQAP forces. These sources also reported that five AQAP members were killed and two were injured during the Qaifa strikes, naming the casualties as “Abu al-Muhajir al-Abi, Musab al-Ryashi, Hamza al-Hadrami, Abu Turab al-Hadrami, and Dujana al-Sanani”.  It was unclear which of these individuals, if any, were the same as the militant allegedly killed in al-Jassima.

This reported action took place amid a dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP. On March 2nd, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davies announced “more than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah” early that morning.  On March 3rd, the Associated Press reported that Yemeni officials and residents said that the US had conducted “dozens of airstrikes on al-Qaida targets in Yemen overnight and in the past 48 hours in one of the lengthiest, sustained operations inside this conflict-torn Arab country”.

A US military intelligence source told NBC News that the strikes were “part of ‘new directives’ to aggressively pursue the Dhahab and Qayfa clans”. Estimates of the total death toll on March 2nd varied; on March 3rd, Reuters reported that Thursday’s strikes left “at least nine” dead, while officials speaking with the Associated Press said that seven alleged militants had been killed.  Oman Daily reported that 12 “suspected al-Qaeda members in Yemen” had been killed on March 2nd.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the village of Jasima (جسيمة), allegedly within the Qifah (قيفه) district, for which, due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Qifah are: 14.449335, 44.817596.

  • Reports of the incident mention the village of Jasima (جسيمة), allegedly within the Qifah (قيفه) district. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

U.S. forces conducted a series of precision strikes in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in the early morning of March 2 (Yemen time). More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah.

The strikes were conducted in partnership with the Government of Yemen, and were coordinated with President Hadi. The Government of Yemen is a valuable counter-terrorism partner, and we support its efforts to bring stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP.

The strikes will degrade the AQAP's ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to use territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen as a safe space for terror plotting. Targets of the strikes included militants, equipment, infrastructure, heavy weapons systems and fighting positions.

AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct, and inspire terror attacks against the United States and our allies. U.S. forces will continue to work with the Government of Yemen to defeat AQAP and deny it the ability to operate in Yemen.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr066

Incident date

April 2–3, 2017

Location

الأدوس, Al Adwas, Hadramout, Yemen

Geolocation

14.846981, 49.159258 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted alleged AQAP militants travelling in a car near Al-Adwas, Hadramout governorate, likely overnight from April 2nd to April 3rd. There are no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Several sources including YN News reported that AQAP militants were targeted, and one specified that they were targeted while in a car. No known sources mentioned numbers of militant casualties, if any, due to the strike.

No sources specified the time at which the strike took place, though almost all were published early on April 3rd 2017, indicating that the strike likely took place overnight from April 2nd to 3rd.

This reported event took place amid a dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP in March 2017. On April 3rd 2017, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said that, since February 28th 2017, 70 US airstrikes were conducted in Yemen.

The incident was first reported on April 3, 2017 at 2:14 am by @saleh_binali.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of Al Adwas (الأدوس) village, at a location west of Aqabat Abdullah Gharib (عبدالله غريب) and north of Mukalla (المكلا) city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Aqabat Abdullah Gharib are: 14.846981, 49.159258.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

The U.S. military conducted airstrikes over eastern Yemen during the weekend, targeting the sites of extremist group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, director of Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.

“We continue to target [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] in Yemen, and this is done in the interest of disrupting a terror organization that presents a very significant threat to the United States,” Davis said.

Strikes Target Terrorists

During the weekend in Yemen’s Shabwah governorate, the precision airstrikes targeted al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, as well as the terrorists’ infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment, the spokesman said.

The airstrikes follow the late-January U.S. raid in Yemen during which a U.S. service member died. From Feb. 28 through last week, some 50 airstrikes were conducted, Davis noted.

The weekend airstrikes, which were largely unmanned, bring the total to 70, he said.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr142

Incident date

January 28–29, 2018

Location

البحري, Al Bahri, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.084370, 45.309580 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed at least one alleged AQAP militant in Marib governorate, according to some local language social media accounts, though others suggested that he was an officer in the Yemen army. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Most sources indicated that Muhammad Talib Saleh Al-Faqir was killed in the strike; Twitter users @egl3000 and @hakak3333thamr suggested that he was “a senior officer” or “brigade commander” in the Yemen military.

Three others – @YeAbood, @Shuaibalmosawa, and @mssbilaraby – indicated that Al-Faqir was a suspected AQAP militant. The latter two sources suggested that two other suspected militants (from Qayfa and Briki) were also killed in the attack. AQAP militants have been previously reported to have fought alongside pro-Hadi government forces.

Most suggested that the strike targeted a car near Al-Bahri station in the Al-Juba area, though one gave a location of Kara, in the Wadi Obeida area.

Sources initially reported the strike late on January 28th, and alleged images of the site indicated that the attack likely took place during the night.

In a detailed list provided to the Long War Journal of US actions in Yemen during early 20178, no mention was made of a strike in Marib on this date – though an attack was declared in Bayda. This is detailed in a separate entry.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–3

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • The strike reportedly targeted a car in the area, killing at least one. From the image, it appears that the strike took place at night. (@egl3000, January 28th 2018)
  • The strike reportedly targeted a car in the area, killing at least one. From the image, it appears that the strike took place at night. (@egl3000, January 28th 2018)
  • A tweet, later deleted, also reported that a strike took place (@Shuaibalmosawa, January 28th 2018)

Geolocation notes

Reports on the incident mention the village of Al Bahri (البحري) for which the generic coordinates are: 15.084370, 45.309580. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–3

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr216

Incident date

January 2–3, 2020

Location

الجراف/حدة, Al Jarf/Hadda, Sana'a, Yemen

Geolocation

15.399569, 44.209156 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Qods Force commander in Sana’a, overnight from January 2nd-3rd 2020.

While initial reports suggested that Shahlai had been killed in the strike, official sources later indicated that he had survived. There was some indication that another Iranian soldier was killed, however. The strike reportedly took place alongside a second confirmed US drone strike in Iraq, which assassinated Iranian commander Qasem Suleimani early on January 3rd. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm in the strike.

The specific circumstances of the strike were unclear. Though reports initially emerged late on January 3rd, with some suggesting that the attack took place around that time, later reporting by outlets including the Washington Post, ABC, and CNN instead indicated that it took place on the same night as the strike that killed General Suleimani. This chimes with an Erem News report that local sources in Sana’a had denied that there were any airstrikes overnight from January 3rd-4th.

Local language outlets also reported that the strike took place some time overnight from January 2nd-3rd. According to Tahdeeth, the attack took place in the Al Jarf area of Sana’a on January 2nd. Yemen Time further indicated, according to local sources, that the strike took place at 4am “on the day of the killing of Qassem Soleimani”, January 3rd, in the Hadda area of Sana’a city, near the Faj Atan area. According to analyst Joshua Koontz (@JoshuaKoontz__), Hadda lies around 4.5 miles from Al Jarf.

Though initial reports, from Twitter users including @muard_doden and @raed_alamassi, suggested that the strike targeted a car, Yemen Times reported that the target was a house. US officials likewise told ABC News that the strike targeted Shahlai in his “compound”. While most indicated that the attack took the form of a drone strike, a few sources, such as @wesleysmorgan, suggested that the action was a US Special Forces operation.

Four US officials told the Washington Post that Shahlai had survived the attack. “If we had killed him, we’d be bragging about it that same night”, a senior US official told the Washington Post. The Intercept later reported that Shahlai went into hiding after the strike, according to a US counter-terrorism official.

It was further reported by The Intercept that a “lower-level Quds Force operative” was killed in the strike. Sources variously indicated that the killed operative was Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Mustafa Muhammad Mirzai. On January 6th 2020, Aden Gad reported that, according to Iranian media, Mirzai, was killed in vague “clashes” in Yemen. Iranian state media also reported that Mirzai had died on January 3rd in “one of the fields of the Resistance Front”, at the same time acknowledging a military fatality in Yemen for the first time, according to journalist Amir Toumaj.

Analyst Joshua Koontz also indicated that, according to the IRGC-linked Fars News Agency, Mirzai’s body was flown back to Iran for a funeral in Shahr-e-Ray, Tehran, on January 6th 2020. Quoting Fars, Joshua Koontz indicated that Mirzai was a “comms expert” who had also travelled to Iraq and Syria.

The alleged target of the strike, Abdul Reza Shahlai, supervised the Quds Force division aiding Houthi forces in the Yemeni civil war, The Intercept reported. In December 2019, the US State Department declared a $15 million reward for information on Shahlai. He has been linked to a January 2007 attack on the Karbala Joint Provincial Coordination Centre in Iraq, in which five US soldiers were kidnapped and later killed. In 2011, the US had listed him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, for allegedly planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. The US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, also said in 2019 that the US was “gravely concerned by his presence in Yemen and potential role in providing advanced weaponry of the kind we have interdicted to the Houthis”.

The Pentagon was coy about the attack. “We have seen the report of a January 2 airstrike in Yemen, which is long-understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States. The Department of Defense does not discuss alleged operations in the region.” said Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich in a statement to the press.

Subsequently, CENTCOM informed Airwars that it had conducted no strikes in Yemen during January 2020. Officials told the Washington Post, however, that “officials at the Pentagon and at military commands in Florida were monitoring both strikes”, suggesting that the US military had conducted the strike. The DoD also announced, at the time, that they had conducted the strike against Suleimani in Iraq. It is therefore likely that this action was an undeclared US military operation.

Several news outlets reported that the attempted killing of Shahlai undercut the rationale given by US officials for the parallel strike on Qasem Suleimani in Iraq. In the aftermath of the Suleimani strike, The Intercept reported, the US had submitted a letter to the United Nations Security Council, stating that the strike exercised its “inherent right to self-defence”. US officials and President Trump also justified the strike on the basis of an imminent threat posed by Suleimani.

The reported strike in Yemen, however, suggested “a mission with a longer planning horizon and a larger objective, and it really does call into question why there was an attempt to explain this publicly on the basis of an imminent threat”, Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post. A US official indicated to The Intercept that a strike against Shahlai had been discussed in the Trump administration for three years, “as a means of deterring further Iranian support for the Houthis in Yemen”.

Further, this strike against a Houthi ally was reported to be a significant deviation from prior US policy in Yemen, which had previously emphasised “counter-terrorism” efforts against AQAP and, more recently, ISIS. The attempted killing of Shahlai in Yemen – coupled with the assassination of Suleimani in Iraq at the same time – may point to a preplanned decapitation attempt by the US against the senior leadership of Iran’s military.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (56) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (8) [ collapse]

  • Iranian Qods Force commander Abdul Reza Shahlai was reportedly the target of the alleged strike, though reports indicated that he survived (@Levitt_Matt, January 6th 2020)
  • Iranian Qods Force "operative" Mohammed Mirzai was alleged to have been killed in the strike (@AmirToumaj, January 6th 2020)
  • Analyst Joshua Koontz mapped two alleged locations of the strike, Al-Jarf and Hadda (@JoshuaKoontz__, January 14th 2020)
  • The US administration officially denied the strike, as in this transcript of an interview of the Defence Secretary by a news host (@rgoodlaw, January 12th 2020)

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention separate locations within the Sana’a City (امانة العاصمه) district. According to one source, @JoshuaKoontz__, these are the Al Jarf (الجراف) area, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.399569, 44.209156, and the Hadda (حدة) area, south of Sana’a, at these generic coordinates: 15.303724, 44.190960. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention separate locations located within the Sana’a City (امانة العاصمه) district. According to one source, @JoshuaKoontz__, these are the Al Jarf (الجراف) area, and the Hadda (حدة) area, south of Sana’a

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • @JoshuaKoontz__ alleges that two seperate areas have been identified as locations of the strike, these are the Al Jarf (الجراف) area, and the Hadda (حدة) area, south of Sana’a.

    Imagery:
    @JoshuaKoontz__

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (56) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr230

Incident date

September 4, 2020

Location

شقرة, Shakra, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.35663, 45.699426 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Some local-language social media sources suggested that a US drone strike targeted alleged militants in Shaqra, Khanfar district of Abyan governorate, early on September 4th 2020. Most reports, however, instead indicated that strikes had been carried out by a drone of the UAE or UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council just after midnight, targeting forces associated with the Saudi-backed government of President Hadi. There were no known reports of civilian harm.

Two of the sources that alleged US responsibility for the strike indicated that AQAP or ISIS militants had been the target. One local-language Twitter user, @marib__dam, reported that a US drone had bombed a “car carrying al-Qaeda operatives, including Abu al-Bara al-Qifi and his companions in Shaqra”, while @hsin_sad reported that a US drone had “burned ISIS and al-Qaeda groups” in Shaqra.

A third Twitter source, @Mukhtar03296421, indicated that a US drone had instead targeted a car next to “militias affiliated with the Yemeni government”, killing “dozens” of militants.

News sources, however, instead assigned responsibility to the UAE or UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, with some suggesting that the strike reflected the first use of drones in the conflict by these parties.

The Yemen Press Agency reported that, according to “sources”, a drone “likely belonging to the UAE carried out two raids after midnight on Thursday, which bombed Hadi and Islah militias groups in Shakra district”, killing and wounding “several”. Likewise, Debriefer indicated that strikes “believed to be carried out by the forces of the UAE-backed southern transitional council” had injured “at least 12 government troops, including a senior officer”.

According to Right Now Times, a Yemeni military source told Sputnik that “two unidentified drones” had conducted two strikes in the area, injuring four soldiers and damaging a vehicle. According to the report, the targeted forces responded with anti-aircraft fire. The reported original Sputnik article could not be found by Airwars researchers.

Given competing ascriptions of responsibility for the alleged strike, this event has been assessed by Airwars as “contested”. At least four belligerents were reportedly injured, with a maximum of twelve. Accounting for the allegation of “several” killed and wounded, minimum reported belligerent deaths has been set at two, with a maximum of twenty-four, accounting for the report of “dozens” killed.

The incident occured around midnight.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen, Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–24
  • Belligerents reported injured
    4–12

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention strikes in the town of Shakra (شقرة), for which the generic coordinates are: 13.35663, 45.699426. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

United Arab Emirates Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • United Arab Emirates Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen, Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–24
  • Belligerents reported injured
    4–12

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr116-C

Incident date

November 12, 2017

Location

وادي الحيات, Wadi Al Hayat, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.529359983, 44.855200999 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US Central Command spokesperson told reporters that a strike had killed two alleged ISIS militants in Bayda governorate on November 12th 2017. This confirmed earlier reports that a US drone strike in the Dhi Kalib area of Qayfa had killed two at noon on that date. Two sources suggested that one of those killed in the strike was a civilian.

According to Yemen Shabab Net, the strike killed civilian Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed al-Azraq Abu Sureima, who “happened to be in the area” when a drone targeted and killed an ISIS militant in Wadi Al Hayat, north of Dhi Kalb. Aden News also reported this, though the article quoted a “media source”, and appeared to be derivative of the Yemen Shabab report. Given this, the allegation of civilian harm has been assessed by Airwars as “weak”.

One Twitter source, @demolinari, suggested that the strike targeted a car near Dhi Kalb village, killing two “suspected ISIS militants”. Other sources simply reported that two were killed in the strike, without providing further information.

In its May 2018 annual civilian casualty report, the US Department of Defense stated that “there were credible reports of civilian casualties caused by U.S. military actions in Yemen against AQAP and ISIS during 2017”, but did not specify which specific actions these reports referred to.  Overall, the Department of Defense assessed that there were credible reports of “approximately 499 civilians killed and approximately 169 civilians injured during 2017”, as a result of US military actions in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

Responding to Airwars’ publication of its Yemen dataset and accompanying report in October 2020, CENTCOM dismissed all but two civilian harm claims under President Trump, asserting that “USCENTCOM conducted a thorough review of the information AirWars provided regarding allegations of potential civilian harm caused by USCENTCOM strikes in Yemen from 2017-2020… The bulk of the information asserted by AirWars, however, did not correspond with dates and locations of U.S. military strikes or raids in Yemen.   Other AirWars allegations either did not allege civilian harm or were not assessed as credible upon our review.”

The incident occured around midday.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • According to one source, Yemen Shabab Net, the US strike killed one alleged ISIS militant and one nearby civilian near Dhi Kalb. Other sources, and CENTCOM, suggested that both of those killed were ISIS militants (@demolinari, November 13th 2017)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention Wadi Al Hayat (وادي الحيات), allegedly north of Dhi Kalib (ذي كالب) village, in the Al Quraishyah (القريشيه) district. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Dhi Kalib are: 14.529359983, 44.855200999.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • Via email: U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) continues to focus on ways to minimize civilian casualties during its military operations. We assess or review all reports of civilian casualties because such assessments or reviews help us identify ways to improve our operations and counter misinformation and propaganda. We routinely share the results of every one of our assessments in Department of Defense (DoD) reports to Congress, including annual reports, many of which are publicly available. We also share the results of our assessments or reviews with the public via the USCENTCOM website and our statements to the media. Individuals wishing to understand U.S. military operations in Yemen more fully should consult these official sources of information. USCENTCOM conducted a thorough review of the information AirWars provided regarding allegations of potential civilian harm caused by USCENTCOM strikes in Yemen from 2017-2020. Of the information AirWars provided, one strike on September 14, 2017, was assessed to have caused injuries to two civilians. Also, as previously released by USCENTCOM to the public in February 2017, USCENTCOM acknowledged there may have been civilian casualties during a raid on January 29, 2017. The bulk of the information asserted by AirWars, however, did not correspond with dates and locations of U.S. military strikes or raids in Yemen. Other AirWars allegations either did not allege civilian harm or were not assessed as credible upon our review. Consistent with our mission, our authorities, and our obligations under the law of war, USCENTCOM will continue to conduct military actions in Yemen when required to protect the Nation and our allies and partners from al Qa’ida and ISIS terror cells that are committed to inflicting terror. In every strike and raid, we take careful measures to minimize civilian harm and take responsibility for our actions. When our military operations result in reports of civilian harm, we will continue to assess the credibility of such reports to help us identify ways to improve our operations and respond as appropriate.

Original strike reports

US Forces

We conducted three strikes against ISIS in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen Nov. 10-12.
· 10 Nov – 1 strike – 2 EKIA
· 11 Nov – 1 strike – 1 EKIA
· 12 Nov – 1 strike – 2 EKIA

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (9) [ collapse]