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

USYEM128-B

Incident date

September 10, 2012

Location

وادي العين, Wadi Al Ain, Hadramaut, Yemen

Geolocation

15.489268, 48.425239 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between six and seven militants including AQAP’s second-in-command Said al Shehri (aka al Shihri) were reportedly killed in an alleged US or Yemeni strike on a car and house in Hadramout, eastern Yemen on September 12, 2012, according to US and Yemeni officials. However, it is unclear at what point Shehri was killed as his death was not announced by AQAP until July 2013.

Residents in the Wadi al Ain village believe the missile struck a home in which numerous men were meeting while CNN reported that the strikes were against a car. Nasser Arrabyee @Narrabyee tweeted that six individuals were killed and Reuters reported that among the dead were a Saudi and an Iraqi.

Al Shehri “was prisoner number 327 at Guantanamo Bay, captured as he tried to cross the border into Pakistan from Afghanistan late in 2001.” In 2007 he was released, returning to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where he was put through a rehabilitation program. However within months he reportedly absconded, becoming a founding member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He was suspected of involvement in a 2008 car bomb attack on the US embassy in Sanaa. Sixteen died, including the six attackers.

A diplomat told the FT al Shehri was “the senior leadership figure in AQAP who was involved in external attack planning.” Katherine Zimmerman said al Shehri’s death would have a medium-term impact on AQAP but it “still has room to maneuver in Yemen” and “its operational network is largely intact.”

The Press Association initially reported Yemeni military officials as saying that “a local forensics team had identified al Shehri’s body with the help of US forensics experts on the ground.” The agency added: “Yemeni military officials said they had believed the United States was behind the operation because its own army does not have the capacity to carry out precise aerial attacks and because Yemeni intelligence-gathering capabilities on al Shehri’s movements were limited.”

However an anonymous Yemeni official subsequently told Asharq al Awsat: “Saeed Ali al Shehri was not killed in the raid that targeted a number of Al-Qaeda’s fighters in Dadramawt a few weeks ago.”

The source told the London-based paper DNA tests had shown a corpse was not that of al Shehri. He said authorities “were confused because of a wound on the leg of the deceased that matched a wound that al Shehri has that requires him to use a walking stick.”

The paper reported that DNA samples were taken but it was subsequently claimed that DNA tests had not yet been carried out. An “American-German” team was said to have been coming to Yemen to carry out the tests.

Sources in Abyan also told the Yemen Observer al Shehri was still alive, 10 days after the strike. One said al Shehri was not at the scene of the strike. A second said “I am one hundred percent sure he [al Shehri] is alive. So close sources from al Shehri have also affirmed he is still alive.”

The following month, October 2012, a recording purporting to be al Shehri emerged, in which he claimed the false rumours of his death were “to cover up the killing of innocent Muslim civilians” and in April 2013, AQAP released a statement from al Shihri, and referred to him as if he was alive. AQAP announced the death of al Shihri in a video that was released on July 16, 2013 according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained the video. However, the statement does not specify when he was killed, only that it was by US drones.

The incident occured in the morning.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Al Ain river valley (وادي العين) in Hadhramout governorate, for which the coordinates are: 15.489268, 48.425239. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6–7

Sources (43) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Deputy leader of al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, Said al-Shehri, a Saudi national identified as Guantanamo prisoner number 372, speaks in a video posted on Islamist websites, in this 2009 file image. (NBC News)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6–7

Sources (43) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr117

Incident date

November 19, 2017

Location

يكلا‎, Yakla, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.598056, 45.060000 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US strike in Bayda governorate killed two AQAP militants on November 19th 2017, a US Central Command spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. This confirmed local reports that a US drone strike had killed at least three alleged AQAP militants in Yakla, in the Wald Rabi area of Bayda governorate, on that evening. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Multiple local-language sources, including Adengad and @tarebhtoday, reported that, according to locals, the strike targeted an area “near an ISIS camp” in the area, though none suggested that ISIS members had been killed. Others, such as Hour News, suggested that the area was itself home to an AQAP “site”. Both terror organisations had previously been targeted in the area.

While most suggested that three were killed in the strike, @7adramout_net reported that four “from Al Qaeda” had died. Another Twitter source, @demolinari, named one of those killed as Abdullah Hassan Abdullah Nuba Al-Ateeqi.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention training camps being struck in the vicinity of Yakla (يكلا‎) village, within the Wald Rabi district (بمديرية ولد ربيع). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Yakla are: 14.598056, 45.060000.

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 (3) [ collapse]

  • According to @demolinari, one of the alleged AQAP militants killed in the strike was named Abdullah Hassan Abdullah Nuba Al-Ateeqi (November 20th 2017)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US 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
    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

USYEM056-B

Incident date

April 1–3, 2012

Location

لحج‎, أبين‎, Lahj and Abyan governorates, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.43417, 45.206792 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

As many as 43 ‘suspected Al Qaeda militants’ were killed and dozens of others were wounded in alleged US drone strikes and/or Yemeni air and artillery strikes in the Al Harur area of Lahj and Abyan governorates between 1-3 April 2012.

The strikes were part of continuous raids by joint Yemeni land, sea, and air forces according to local officials. A number of Yemen officials confirmed US involvement, with one local official claiming that “The U.S. is involved in a number of the latest attacks, but that does not mean our air force is not in control of the raids occurring.” He said that the US “has taken part in three of the airstrikes, but said Yemen’s air force is leading the operation. He did not detail the type of support provided,” according to CNN. Another local security claimed U.S. drones were in support of the continuous Yemeni raids, but did not further elaborate on its role in the raids.

It is unclear whether U.S. or Yemeni military forces were primarily responsible for the suspected militants deaths. According to several Yemeni security officials, at least six suspected Al Qaeda militants were killed by Yemeni artillery shelling on 1 or 2 April 2012, and another 16 militants were killed in Zinjibar by “missiles descended from the sea”, although this might be the same incident a few weeks earlier where naval strikes also killed 16 militants in Zinjibar (USYEM051-B).

France24 reported on April 3rd that over the last 48 hours, 38 Al Qaeda members had been killed in bombings and raids and Yemen Post added that dozens were wounded, quoting local security sources. Mulkalla Star provided the highest casualty estimate – 43 militants were killed in airstrikes, specifically attributed to the Yemeni army, after heavy air bombardment which lasted for three days. Al Masdar Online quoted AFP who reported that a group leader named Abu Bilal, a Somali national, was among the militants killed.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident only mention the southern governorates of Lahj (لحج‎) and Abyan (أبين‎). The coordinates for between those two areas are: 13.434170, 45.206792. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

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, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    38–43
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–24

Sources (23) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force 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, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    38–43
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–24

Sources (23) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr150

Incident date

March 4–5, 2018

Location

مديرية العبر, Al Abr District, Hadramaut, 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.

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

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)

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

USYEMTr002

Incident date

January 21, 2017

Location

مديرية الصومعة, Al Sama'a, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.166667, 45.831111 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

There were some unconfirmed reports of a January 21st US drone strike in Sama’a, al-Bayda province, killing up to three alleged AQAP militants. The strike was reported to have occurred in the same general area as a second, confirmed strike on the same day.

All but one source said that three militants had died in the attack – with most sources also describing a pickup truck as having been targeted. SMA News reported only that three ‘people’ had died in the attack – noting that it did not have additional details on their identities at the time.

Al-Masdar Online, which indicated that the strike took place in the Al-Fara’a area of Sama’a, named the “suspected” militants killed as Mithaq Al-Adani, Jarrah Al-San’ani and Ammar Al-Hadi.

AFP instead reported on January 22nd that anonymous security officials said that a drone strike had taken place against a motorcycle, the second of two attacks the previous day.  Some local sources similarly reported that a strike had taken place against a motorcycle, while others reported that a strike had taken place against a vehicle. US Central Command later acknowledged only one strike on the 21st.

Due to the geographical proximity of this reported strike to others during the same time period, it is possible that some or all of these reports instead refer to one or more other listed drone strikes from the 20th-22nd January 2017. However it also remains possible that this was an undeclared CIA action.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a strike on a vehicle in the district of Al Suma’a (مديرية الصومعة), for which the generic coordinates are: 14.166667, 45.831111. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention a strike on a vehicle in the district of Al Suma’a (مديرية الصومعة).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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 attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–4

Sources (16) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces 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 attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–4

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr038-C

Incident date

March 5–6, 2017

Location

يكلا, Yakla, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.594167, 45.067500 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Several sources reported that brothers Ahmad Abdullah Muhammad Al-Sanbahi Al-Khubezi, aged twelve, and Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad Al-Sanbahi Al-Khubezi, aged ten, were killed by a US strike in Yakla, in the Qifah area of Bayda governorate, overnight from March 5th to March 6th.

According to Hunaradaa, local residents said that an older brother, Omar, survived the strike, which was reported by Al-Masdar Online to have taken place on a mountain road in the village.  Hunaradaa also reported that the US drone strike targeted “a car carrying displaced people”, though no other sources corroborated this claim.

Shafaqna reported that the brothers had been tending a herd of goats at the time of the strike. Sources differed on the exact timing of the action, with some indicating that it occurred late on Sunday and others suggesting early Monday morning. According to Reuters, the road was one used by militants in the Yakla area.

Hunaredaa also reported that the brothers’ father had been killed by a US drone strike in 2014, and that the family had fled to Yakla after Houthis allegedly destroyed their home in Khobza village.

One Twitter source also later reported that “five tribal members and two children” were killed as the result of the “Monday drone strikes” in Yakla. It was unclear whether the five reported tribal members were killed in this strike or in a reported distinct second strike in the Qaifa area later that day, or indeed if they were militants or civilians. As such, Airwars presently assesses that a minimum of two civilian children were killed in the strike, with a maximum of seven civilian deaths.

According to Al-Masdar Online, residents reported that a helicopter launched the strike in the village, though others indicated that a drone was responsible for the death of the brothers. Another Twitter source reported that indiscriminate bombing took place in the village. The strike came amidst the reported displacement of civilians and alleged militants from the Yakla area, due to the frequency of alleged US airstrikes. Hunaradaa reported that “dozens” of families had fled Yakla for nearby mountains and valleys in early March, echoed in reporting by journalist Iona Craig of the Intercept.

US Central Command later told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that “they had looked into the allegations in the Reuters reporting and determined they were not credible in accordance with their established procedures”.

Yakla was the target of several alleged US strikes in early March 2017, several of which reportedly targeted alleged AQAP leader Sheikh Abdul Ilah al-Dhahab, who was claimed killed by another US strike on March 3rd 2017 in Marib. Yakla was also the site of a US special forces raid on January 29th 2017, which resulted in the deaths of at least twenty civilians, including at least eleven children.

This event took place amid a dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP in March 2017. On March 6th, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis announced that forty strikes had been conducted in Yemen over the previous five nights.  A day earlier, AFP had reported that AQAP militants had begun to withdraw from several areas, including Yakla, in response to US strikes.

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 in the morning.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Yakla (يكلا), for which the coordinates are: 14.594167, 45.067500. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 7
  • (2 children)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–5

Sources (21) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Two brothers, allegedly pictured here, were reportedly killed by an overnight US airstrike in Yakla from March 5th to March 6th (@akbralyuom, March 6th 2017)

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected 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.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • US Central Command said they were not aware of any credible civilian casualty allegations from the March 6 strike. They did say they had looked into the allegations in the Reuters reporting and determined they were not credible in accordance with their established procedures.

  • 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

Defense Department officials detected and tracked multiple missile launches out of North Korea today, four of which landed in the Sea of Japan, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters this morning.

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, Platoon 501, prepare for an EOD mine-countermeasure exercise with members of a South Korean navy underwater dive team off the coast of Jinhae, South Korea, as part of exercise Foal Eagle 2017, March 3, 2017. Foal Eagle is an annual, bilateral training exercise designed to enhance the readiness of U.S. and South Korean forces and their ability to work together during a crisis. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield
Explosive ordnance disposal technicians assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, Platoon 501, prepare for an EOD mine-countermeasure exercise with members of a South Korean navy underwater dive team off the coast of Jinhae, South Korea, as part of exercise Foal Eagle 2017, March 3, 2017. Foal Eagle is an annual, bilateral training exercise designed to enhance the readiness of U.S. and South Korean forces and their ability to work together during a crisis. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield
Davis said the four medium-range ballistic missiles were launched from the northwest corner of North Korea, traveled over the Korean Peninsula and out into the sea, totaling about 1,000 kilometers in distance, or more than 620 miles.

Missiles Land Off Japan’s Coast

The missiles landed in the vicinity of Akita Prefecture off the coast of Japan near that nation’s exclusive economic zone, he said. The EEZ is defined as a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.

“The North American Aerospace Defense Command detected that the missiles from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” Davis said. “This [North Korean missile launch] is very similar in terms of the path and the distance of the three missiles that flew into Japan’s EEZ in September 2016.”

He added, “These launches, which coincide with the start of our annual defensive exercise, Foal Eagle, with the Republic of Korea’s military, are consistent with North Korea’s long history of provocative behavior, often timed to military exercises that we do with our ally,”

The United States stands with its allies “in the face of this very serious threat and are taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles, such as the deployment of a [Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense] battery to South Korea, which will happen as soon as feasible,” Davis said.

U.S. Strikes AQAP in Yemen

Also overnight, the United States made an airstrike on Yemen’s Abyan Governorate against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula fighters, bringing to 40 the strikes there in the past five nights, Davis said.

Since the first airstrike against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen on Feb. 28, “We will continue to target [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] militants and facilities to disrupt the organization’s plot and protect American lives,” the captain said.

The strikes have been coordinated with and done in full partnership with the government of Yemen with the goal of denying al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists’ freedom of movement within traditional safe havens, Davis emphasized.

The captain also confirmed the deaths of three al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in March 2 and 3 airstrikes in Yemen.

Usayd al Adani, whom Davis described as a longtime al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula explosives expert and facilitator who served as the organization’s emir, was killed in a U.S. airstrike March 2 within the Abyan Governorate. Killed with him was former Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee Yasir al Silmi.

Killed March 3 was al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula fighter and communications intermediary for Adani, Harithah al Waqri, Davis said.

“[Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against the United States and our allies,” he said. “And we will continue to work with the government of Yemen to defeat [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula].

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 7
  • (2 children)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–5

Sources (21) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr078

Incident date

April 18, 2017

Location

الطريق بين الحوطة و عزان, Road between Al Hawtah and Azzan, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.351569, 47.418525 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Street level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed at least two alleged AQAP militants travelling in the Hotat al-Faqih Ali area of Mayfa’a district in Shabwa governorate, late on April 18th 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Though most local language social media sources and other media, such as Sahafahnet, reported that two men were killed in a car between Al-Houta and Azan, the Associated Press and Akhbaralaan reported that five alleged militants were killed in the strike. Andalou Agency, citing a local security official, was alone in saying that two vehicles were struck in Shabwa.

Several sources reported that the strike killed AQAP leaders Saleh Al-Awlaki and Saeed Baqadir, also named by one source as Saeed Mahdi Al-Hass. However other sources indicated that the men were killed in another overnight strike in Marib governorate. Mandab Press for example claimed that four unnamed AQAP members died in Shabwa’s Mayfa’a district; while al Awlaki and al Hass separately died in Marib governorate.

On April 24th 2017, the Pentagon announced that the US had carried out over eighty strikes in Yemen since February 28th 2017.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck on the road connecting the towns of Al Hawtah (الحوطة) to Azzan (عزان). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the road are: 14.351569, 47.418525.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck on the road connecting the towns of Al Hawtah (الحوطة) to Azzan (عزان).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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
    2–5

Sources (42) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2017 — Coalition and U.S. strikes continue to aid progress against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Iraq and Syria, and against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said here today.
Today is day 65 of the operation to liberate western Mosul in Iraq, he said, and yesterday Iraqi forces gained another 6 square kilometers along the forward line of troops on the axis of attack moving from the south toward Mosul’s old city.
Members of the Iraqi Emergency Response Division and the Federal Police maintained defensive positions along their eastern boundary and the Tigress River. The Counterterrorism Service also gained new ground and the Iraqi army’s 9th Division continued to defend positions west of Mosul. Clearing operations continue in eastern Mosul, Davis reported.
Supporting Iraq Operations
“The total number of munitions delivered since Oct. 17 in support of operations to liberate Mosul is 22,107,” he added.
The munitions destroyed total 259 vehicle-borne bombs, 638 buildings and facilities, 209 tunnels, 684 vehicles, 914 bunkers, 38 anti-aircraft artillery systems, 542 artillery and mortar systems, and 279 boats and barges, Davis said.
On April 23, coalition military forces conducted seven strikes consisting of 49 engagements against ISIS targets.
Near Rawah, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS staging area, according to a statement by Operation Inherent Resolve officials.
Near Mosul, the officials said, six strikes engaged five ISIS tactical units; destroyed 11 fighting positions, eight heavy machine guns, four rocket-propelled grenade systems, two ISIS-held buildings, an ISIS-held bridge and a vehicle-borne bomb; damaged 14 ISIS supply routes and a fighting position; and suppressed four rocket teams, three mortar teams and an ISIS tactical unit.
Operations in Syria
In the fight for Raqqa in Syria, the Pentagon spokesman said, Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated another 2 square kilometers in the Raqqa valley north and Tabqah areas, and in the Raqqa valley north on the western axis.
“The SDF is reporting large numbers of internally displaced persons fleeing ISIS-held areas around there,” Davis added, noting that ISIS does not control the Tabqah dam or the city but the city is almost entirely surrounded.
In Syria yesterday, according to an OIR statement, coalition military forces conducted 24 strikes consisting of 48 engagements against ISIS targets.
Near Dayr Az Zawr, three strikes destroyed three ISIS wellheads. Near Palmyra, two strikes destroyed four fighting positions and two ISIS shipping containers.
Near Raqqa, seven strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units and destroyed three fighting positions, a heavy machine gun, a tactical vehicle and an ISIS wellhead. And near Tabqah, 12 strikes engaged 10 ISIS tactical units and destroyed 12 fighting positions, a tactical vehicle, an ISIS vehicle, a heavy machine gun and a command-and-control node.
Yemen Operations
U.S. forces conducted a strike April 18 in the Ma’rib governorate against three al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, and another strike yesterday in the Shabwa governorate against eight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, Davis said.
“Since February 28, we've conducted more than 80 precision strikes against AQAP militants, infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment, and we'll continue to conduct operations including strikes against known terrorists,” he added.
Davis said U.S. forces are conducting a series of sustained operations in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula 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 a safe haven for terror plotting.
Centcom is still assessing the results of the most recent strikes, he said.

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
    2–5

Sources (42) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr187

Incident date

January 21, 2019

Location

الجرشة, Al Jarsha, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.12994, 45.26125 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US drone raid, involving two airstrikes, reportedly killed two alleged AQAP militants in Al Jarsha, in the Juba district of Marib governorate, late on January 21st 2019, according to some local sources. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

One source, Shafah, named one of those killed as Ali Nasser Al-Faqir, “the son of person from the Juba directorate”, and another as a member of the Awlaki family, from Shabwa, according to a second local source. It was suggested that the strike had targeted a car in the area.

In a later press release, US Central Command stated that two strikes had been conducted in Yemen during January 2019. One targeted Jamal Al-Badawi on January 1st, while a second strike took place on January 21st, though in Bayda governorate. It is therefore possible that this was either a CIA or Saudi-led Coalition action.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the village of Al Jarsha (الجرشة), within the Al Juba (الجوبه) district. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Jarsha are: 15.12994, 45.26125.

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
    2

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

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
    2

Sources (6) [ collapse]