US Forces in Yemen: Trump

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
Airwars Grading
Contested
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USYEMTr222-C

Incident date

April 11, 2020

Location

منزل الشيخ علي بن حسن بن غريب, House of Sheik Ali bin Hassan bin Gharib, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.501357, 45.364845 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (via Airwars)

Airwars assessment

According to some sources, a US drone strike targeted alleged AQAP militants in the house of Ali Bin Hassan Bin Gharib, an Islah leader, in Shabwana, in Marib governorate in the early morning of April 11th 2020. However others suggested that a Houthi ballistic missile was responsible. While Bin Gharib was reportedly unharmed, some indicated that the strike resulted in civilian casualties, though no specific details were available.

Bin Gharib is reportedly an elder of the Obeida tribe in Marib, and local sources told Sahaftak that he was a prison official in the governorate. One source, @ahmedhashdy, alleged that he was also an AQAP leader.

Local sources told Al-Masdar Online, YPA Agency, and Sahaftak that the strike had resulted in civilian casualties, partly destroying the house and some neighbouring buildings. Given these reports, Airwars has assessed that at least two civilians were reportedly killed in the event.

Though the first known report of a strike in the area came at 3:42 AM on April 11th – from @AbduMahmoud19, reporting a Houthi ballistic missile strike – several sources, including Al-Masdar Online and Sahaftak, indicated that the strike against Bin Gharib’s house took place on the evening of that day.

Yemeni Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani, tweeted condemnation of the strike on a “residential area in Marib”, which he attributed to “Iranian-backed Houthi militias”, while a Yemeni military social media feed also suggested that this event was one of two Houthi “ceasefire violations” in the area.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during April 2020. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or as part of a clandestine US military action.

The incident occured around dawn.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Artillery, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • The strike, which was variously alleged to be a US drone raid or Houthi missile attack, reportedly targeted the home of Sheikh Ali Bin Gharib (@tonytohcy, April 12th 2020)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a residential building within Ma’rib (مأرب). Conflicting sources claim the building to be located at several sites within a 100m area, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.501357, 45.364845. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention a residential building within Ma’rib (مأرب). Conflicting sources claim the building to be located at several sites within a 100m area.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

According to CENTCOM, there were no US military strikes during April 2020 in Yemen.

Houthi Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Artillery, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr166-C

Incident date

May 14, 2018

Location

وادي الخورة, Wadi Khora, Shabwah, Yemen

Geolocation

14.61063, 46.21792 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

At least two men were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Wadi Khora, Merkhat area of Shabwa governorate, overnight from May 14th-15th 2018. Though most sources suggested that those killed were AQAP militants, a brother of one of the dead denied to Associated Press that either were members of AQAP or ISIS.

A confirmed US strike took place in Shabwa on that date, a US Central Command spokesperson later told the Long War Journal. Since there were no other known reported strikes in Shabwa on May 14th, this event is treated as declared.

Associated Press and Twitter user @3nadoalaqi named the dead as Hussein Bakhash Al-Dayani Al-Awlaki and Abdullah Ruwais Al-Karbi Al-Ahmadi Al-Awlaki. Hussein’s brother, Khaled, told AP that neither were militants, but that his brother was a member of a militia fighting Houthi forces. “We are against those people,” Khaled said, regarding AQAP.  It was unclear whether Abdullah was also a militia member.

A May 15th tweet from Al-Masdar Online suggested that two civilians were killed in a Shabwa drone strike, though the original linked article could not be found by Airwars.  Another article from Al-Masdar from the same time indicated only that two people had been killed in the strike, whom local residents “suggested” to be AQAP members passing through the area.

Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars; a trusted source indicated to Reprieve that the strike had killed two.

Several sources, such as Yemen Shabab, Khabar Agency, and SMA News, reported that the strike had instead killed alleged or suspected AQAP militants, according to tribal and local sources. While some, including Yafa News and the Al-Masdar Online article mentioned above, indicated that two militants had been killed, most suggested that three militants had died. A security official told Xinhua that “at least four” militants had died.

The strike reportedly targeted a car with two consecutive missiles in front of the Al-Ghadeenah Dam, according to Al-Masdar Online, killing all of those inside. While most suggested that a single car was targeted, a security official and local residents told Xinhua that two vehicles were in fact destroyed. Apparent images of the strike location, however, appeared to show only one destroyed vehicle. Multiple sources, including Yemen Shabab and @egl3000, indicated that the vehicle was transporting ammunition and explosives, leading to continued explosions after the initial reported strikes.

Since AP reported that at least one of those killed was an active (if ‘friendly’) combatant, and since the circumstances of the strike appeared to indicate that he was on-duty at the time of the strike, Airwars has assessed that a minimum of one, and a maximum of two, civilians were reportedly killed. Similarly, accounting for the possibility that two were killed, neither affiliated with AQAP, but at least one a militia-member, a minimum of one combatant is assessed as being reportedly killed, with a maximum of four.

Most sources suggested that the strike took place late on March 14th, though some instead indicated early on March 15th. One local news outlet, @AlRayan_News, specified 11:05pm local time – posting its first tweet on the attack just eleven minutes later.

In its annual civilian casualty report to Congress issued in April 2019, the US Department of Defense stated that it had assessed “no credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from US military actions in Yemen during 2018″.

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 11:05 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 2
  • (1–2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (50) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (9) [ collapse]

  • The strike reportedly targeted a car as it travelled by a dam in the Khora area (@AHMED1OS, May 14th 2018)
  • Sources suggested that the car was carrying weapons and ammunition, leading to prolonged explosions in the aftermath of the strike (@salmalaalge, May 14th 2018)
  • At least two men reportedly died in the strike; Xinhua suggested that two vehicles were targeted, though available alleged images and other reports indicated that one was destroyed (@egl3000, May 15th 2018)
  • Hussein Al-Dayani's brother said that he was a member of a militia fighting Houthi forces, and denied that any of those killed were affiliated with AQAP or ISIS (AP, November 14th 2018)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Wadi Khora (وادي الخورة) area within the Merkhat (مرخة) districts of Shabwa (شبوة) governorate. It is unclear whether this refers to an area or a settlement, however we have located the Wadi within the district with undefined boundaries. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Wadi Khora are: 14.61063, 46.21792.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Wadi Khora (وادي الخورة) area within the Merkhat districts of Shabwa governorate. It is unclear whether this refers to an area or a settlement, however we have located the Wadi within the district with undefined boundaries.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • Apr 29, 2019
  • C. U.S. military action in Yemen against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS During 2018, U.S. forces deployed to Yemen continued to work towards disrupting and degrading the terrorist threat posed by AQAP and ISIS. U.S. forces conducted 36 airstrikes against AQAP and ISIS operatives and facilities in Yemen and supported United Arab Emirates and Yemen-led efforts to clear AQAP from Shabwah Governorate. DoD has no credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from U.S. military actions in Yemen during 2018.

  • Via email to Airwars: 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

United States Armed 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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 2
  • (1–2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–4

Sources (50) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr122-C

Incident date

November 26, 2017

Location

قيفه, Qifah, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Three ISIS militants were killed by a US strike in Al Bayda governorate on November 26th 2017, a US Central Command spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. This confirmed earlier reports that a US drone strike had taken place in Qayfa in Al Bayda governorate on that night.

However several local sources and news agencies indicated that the attack had instead killed at least three civilians.

Al-Masdar Online reported that, according to local residents, the US strike killed three civilians in the Aqaba Zaaj area of Qayfa. The dead were named as Salman Salem Al-Amri, Fadl Ali Al-Tisi and Dahan Saleh Al-Tisi, and residents denied to Al-Masdar that any were affiliated with AQAP or ISIS.

Another Twitter source, @FuadRajeh, suggested that an official had reported five children killed by an “indiscriminate” US drone strike in the Yakla area.  One other Twitter source simply reported “civilian casualties” from an American strike in Bayda.

Other sources suggested that three militants were killed in the attack, though indicated that they were affiliated with AQAP rather than ISIS.  According to AFP, three men “known for their ties to Al-Qaeda” were killed while travelling in a car in the area, named as Fadl Tissi, Han Tissi, and Sultan Amri. A local government official reportedly told Al-Arabi that “the raid targeted a car belonging to [AQAP] late Sunday night while it was passing on a secondary road in one of the areas of the province”.

A pro-AQAP channel later confirmed that the three killed were militants, according to one English-language Twitter source, @demolinari.  @demolinari also suggested that images of the dead showed one in camouflage and an ammunition vest, though the described images could not be found by Airwars.

Gulf News reported, in an article that appears to have been updated on November 28th 2017, that five civilians, “mainly farmers”, were killed in the course of “three separate air strikes” in the Qayfa area during that week. This reported civilian casualty event likely accounts for at least one of the reported strikes, alongside event USYEMTr120-C.

Gulf News reported that recent US drone strikes in the area had “displaced residents and caused panic”. “The air strikes have caused great panic among civilians,” the activist told Gulf News. “The targeted areas have no functioning schools or hospitals.”

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 during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 5
  • (5 children)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention strikes within the area of Qifah (قيفه), north of Rada’a (رداع) town, for which the generic coordinates are: 14.449335, 44.817596. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention strikes within the area of Qifah (قيفه), north of Rada’a (رداع) town.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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

United States Armed 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

United States Armed Forces

Jess,

This is the most current CENTCOM information on strikes against AQAP and ISIS in Yemen.

· One strike against ISIS in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 26. killing three terrorists.
· One strike against AQAP in Shabwah Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 25 killing seven terrorists.
· One strike against ISIS in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 23, killing two terrorists.
· Two strikes against AQAP in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 19-20. The strikes killed two AQAP terrorists Nov. 19 and five terrorists on Nov 20.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

MAJ Brown
CENTCOM Media Operations

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 5
  • (5 children)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (16) [ collapse]

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

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

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)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected 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

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed 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

United States Armed 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

United States Armed 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)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–5

Sources (30) [ collapse]