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

Incident Code

USYEMTr152-C

Incident date

March 5, 2018

Location

الرويك, 60km from Al Ruwayk IDP Camp, Hadhramout, Yemen

Geolocation

16.039178, 46.632381 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

A child was reported killed, and his older cousin injured, by a likely US drone strike in Al Abr, in Hadramout governorate, at around 4pm on March 5th 2018.

A US Central Command spokesperson later told the Long War Journal that a strike had taken place in Hadramout on that date. CENTCOM also told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that allegations of civilian harm in this strike had been deemed ‘non-credible’, due to a lack of available evidence.

According to investigations by Mwatana for Human Rights and The Intercept, Amer Ali al-Saqra Huraidan and his older cousin, Hasan, were targeted as they drove home to Marib governorate, after taking relatives to a funeral in al-Hudhi, in Hadramout. According to these sources, Hasan was severely wounded on his right hand, leg, and head, while Amer was killed instantly by the strike.

Local sources denied to The Intercept that Amer or Hasan were members of either AQAP or ISIS. Hasan said that “[Amer] was too young to join [any militant groups]”, and Amer’s uncle, Amer Saleh Huraidan, also told The Intercept that there was “no link with Al Qaeda whatsoever”. Both Mwatana and The Intercept reported that Hasan was a soldier in the Yemen military, but that he was not on deployment at the time of the strike. Writing in The Guardian, Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohamed Askar said that a government committee had collected evidence that those targeted were civilians.

Reporting on the ages of the victims was variable. Mwatana gave the ages of Amer and Hasan as twelve and 17 respectively. According to The Intercept, Amer was thirteen and Hasan was 19, while Associated Press reported that Amer was ten. One Twitter source, @abdrabboh_79, suggested that Amer was eleven at the time of the strike. Given this, it is possible that Hasan was also a child at the time of the strike.

Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars. An on-the-ground investigator reported that a thirteen-year-old was killed, and an eighteen-year-old injured, in the strike.

Baraa Shiban, a Reprieve caseworker, told The Intercept that Amer and his family were Internally Displaced Persons, and, at the time of the strike, were living in tents by an oil field, having fled fighting in Al-Jawf. Mwatana spoke with Amer’s teacher, who said that he was a “very, very good child”. His mother told Mwatana that he “would come home from school to help her with chores”. According to The Intercept, Amer is survived by five siblings.

Amer’s family members told reporters and investigators of their desire for justice and compensation. “We condemn criminal acts from any party, be it from Muslims or non-Muslims. If you take a look at their status in tents, they need relief — electricity, water, food — and not bombing,” Amer’s uncle told The Intercept. One relative told Mwatana that “If we keep silent about this crime, the number of similar strikes against innocent people will increase”.

A local activist told The Intercept that some members of the Al-Mahashima tribe, to which the alleged strike victims belonged, were members of AQAP, and said that Hasan “may have met some members of AQAP”, but he was not himself a member. A Yemeni intelligence official, however, indicated that those members of the tribe had been killed a considerable time ago.

Members of the Al-Mahashima tribe were the target of at least two further alleged US drone strikes in the area during March 2018. In an email to Long War Journal, US Central Command stated that two strikes had taken place on March 4th in Hadramout, and one on March 5th.  Given that two other strikes (USYEMTr150, USYEMTr151) that possibly took place on March 5th have been treated by Airwars as the declared March 4th events, this event is treated as the declared March 5th strike.

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 other reported strikes at around the same time (USYEMTr150/USYEMTr151).  This single-source allegation is also captured in a separate event (USYEMTr153).

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.”

In March 2021 in its report Death from the Sky, Mwatana published a comprehensive review of the event, which it said was based upon “two visits to the area, one on March 15, 2018—about ten days after the strike—and another on October 16, 2019. Mwatana interviewed five people: Hassan (the boy who was wounded), three relatives of the boys, and the teacher of Amer, the 12-year-old boy who was killed. In some cases, Mwatana conducted follow-up interviews to gather further information.”

The report noted: “The strike killed 12-year-old Amer and destroyed the pick-up truck. Hassan [aged 17] said that he was hit with fragments in different parts of his body, including his head, his stomach, and his arm, thigh, and leg on the right side of his body. Hassan lost consciousness and was taken to Karaa Hospital in Ma’rib governorate by a woman and an old man who had driven past Hassan and Amer after the attack. Hassan said he woke up in the hospital. The hospital treated his wounds, which included a few operations to remove the shrapnel from his body and to treat the wounds in his legs and hands. He stayed in the hospital for about a month and then stayed at home in recovery for a few months.”

The incident occured at approximately 4:00 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 child)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • Amer Ali al-Saqra Huraidan, reported to be between ten- and thirteen-years-old, was reportedly killed instantly when a US drone strike targeted a car in which he was travelling (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Amer was reportedly returning from visiting family in Marib province with his cousin, who was also reportedly injured in the strike (@abdrabboh_79, March 11th 2018)
  • Amer and his family were reportedly among a group of internally-displaced persons from Al-Jawf (The Intercept, March 26th 2018)
  • Amer Mohammad Ali Al Saqra’s school certificate from 2012 to 2013. Photo received from a relative. Via Mwatana
  • Hassan Saleh Hassan Al Huraidan, 17, injured on March 5, 2018 in Hadramawt governorate, Yemen. Photo received from a relative. Via Mwatana

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of Al Abr (العبر), approximately 60km from the Al Ruwayk IDP camp, west of Ghwayraban (غويربان), the generic coordinates for this possible location are: 16.039178, 46.632381. 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 in the vicinity of Al Abr (العبر), approximately 60km from the Al Ruwayk IDP camp, west of Ghwayraban (غويربان).

    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.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm, No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • Apr 29, 2019
  • Email to Bureau of Investigative Journalism A spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: "After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances of each civilian casualty report you provided, all four were assessed to be non-credible."

  • 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 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

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
  • (1 child)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • 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.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr163-C

Incident date

April 22–23, 2018

Location

مفقه ,الحزم, Mafqa, Al Hazma, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.79049, 45.71084 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Two young men, who pro-AQAP feeds indicated may have been civilians, were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Al Hazm, in the Beihan area on the borders of Shabwa and Bayda governorates, overnight from April 22nd-23rd 2018. It was later suggested that they were instead killed by a Houthi landmine.

Local language news outlet @HdrmutAlhadath named the dead as Ammar Yasser Al-Duwail aged 22, and Abdullah Mohammed Farid, aged 30.  A local security official told Al-Masdar Online that the two “suspected” AQAP members were killed by a US drone, which targeted them as they travelled through the area on a motorcycle.

According to Dr Elisabeth Kendall, however, pro-AQAP feeds instead described them as “citizens”, not “brothers”, and suggested that they were workers at a livestock market. Some other sources were ambivalent about the status of the dead; @HdrmutAlhadath identified those killed as “youths”.

“The plane was flying at low altitude in the skies of Beihan city before it hit the two men, allegedly belonging to al-Qaeda, in one of the sandy roads in Mafqa area in west of the city”, eyewitnesses told YP Agency.

While only one source (@Dr_E_Kendall) explicitly indicated that the dead were potentially civilians, the ambivalence of other sources has led Airwars to assess the claim of civilian harm as “fair”.

A Reprieve caseworker, Baraa Shiban, later tweeted that the two were not killed by a US drone, but by a Houthi landmine planted earlier in 2018. However, a later US Central Command press release stated that an airstrike in Bayda governorate on April 23rd had targeted “an AQAP checkpoint for asserting regional control and raising illegal revenue”, which the Long War Journal was told was in Bayda. Since there were no other known reports of a US strike in either Shabwa or Bayda on April 23rd, and given that reports indicated that a strike took place in the border region, this event is treated as declared.

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 during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Planted explosives and unexploded ordnance (UXO)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • A US drone strike reportedly killed two men in Beihan area, Shabwa/Bayda border area, overnight from April 22nd-23rd (@Dr_E_Kendall, April 23rd 2018)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Mafqa (مفقه) area, west of the village of Al Hazm (الحزم), for which the generic coordinates are: 14.79049, 45.71084. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Mafqa (مفقه) area, west of the village of Al Hazm (الحزم).

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

Civilian casualty statements

US 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

US Forces

TAMPA, Fla. – In the past three months, U.S. forces have targeted and disrupted the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist network in Yemen through 17 counter-terrorism airstrikes in four separate governorates. These include six air strikes against AQAP terrorists in February, seven air strikes against AQAP terrorists in March and four airstrikes against AQAP terrorists in April.

The April airstrikes included an AQAP training camp in western Hadramawt governorate April 11 and an AQAP checkpoint for asserting regional control and raising illegal revenue in al Bayda governorate April 23.

Other air strikes took place in al Bayda, Hadramawt, Zamakh and Shabwah governorates.

U.S. Central Command is aware of reports of alleged civilian casualties following the March 29 air strike against AQAP in al Bayda governorate. A credibility assessment is being conducted.

Intelligence and defense communities have assessed AQAP as one of the terrorist groups most committed to and capable of conducting attacks in the United States. AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against the United States, its citizens and its allies around the world.

In early 2018, senior AQAP figure Khalid Batarfi called on the group’s supporters to “rise and attack” Americans “everywhere.” Last month, Osama Bin Laden’s son Hamza, an influential al-Qaeda figure, called on aspiring terrorists to join and support AQAP’s terrorist efforts in Yemen.

The United States is committed to finding and striking AQAP’s terrorist network in Yemen.

“In coordination with the government of Yemen, U.S. forces are conducting a series of counter-terrorism operations against AQAP and ISIS-Yemen,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a U.S. Central Command spokesman. “We will continue to disrupt and degrade the ability of AQAP to plan attacks, confronting threats before they reach our borders.”

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Planted explosives and unexploded ordnance (UXO)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr129-C

Incident date

January 1, 2018

Location

ذي كالب , Dhi Kalib, Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.555183, 44.882332 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were allegedly killed by a US drone strike in Dhi Kalb, in the Qayfa area of Bayda governorate, on the afternoon of January 1st 2018, according to multiple sources.

In an email to the Long War Journal, a US Central Command spokesperson confirmed that a strike took place “against AQAP” in Bayda on that day. Since there were no known local reports of other US strikes on January 1st; this event is therefore treated as declared.

Sources, including Yemen Shabab, named those killed as relatives Mohammed Mansar Abu Sarima and Mohammed Naji Ahmad Abu Sarima. Most suggested that the former was a 70-year old and the latter a 40-year old, though one local language Twitter source (@m_alsallaly) gave ages of 50 and 25 respectively.

Two sources, @almasdaronline and @MrsdYem, suggested that those killed were “militants of the Popular Resistance”, indicating that they were among those who militarily opposed Houthi forces in the area.

The pair were reportedly targeted as they sat together in a farm in Dhi Kalb. Tribal sources told Yemen Shabab that they were killed while in a tribal meeting with “the people of Al-Wasat”, which had been called to consider a disputed plot of land in the Dhi Kalb area. A relative of those killed, Mohammed Abu Sarimah, similarly told Associated Press that they had just returned from “mediating a local dispute”.

Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars. Witnesses told an investigator that the two men, an elderly man and a man in his early thirties, were unaffiliated with AQAP. Both were reportedly the first to arrive at a tribal meeting on farmland approximately 300 metres from their house; as they arrived, at around 2:30 PM, they were killed by the drone strike.

According to the AP report, tribal mediations “involve large gatherings of tribesmen who are often armed, potentially raising drone operators’ suspicions”. Mohammed Abu Sarimah told AP that “We don’t have any affiliation. They are simple farmers who don’t know how to read or write… We live in fear. Drones don’t leave the sky.”.

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 approximately 2:30 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

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
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • The Sarima family provided AP with this image, showing a photo of Mohammed Abu Sarima, reportedly killed in the strike (AP, November 14th 2018)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Dhi Kalib (ذي كالب ) for which the generic coordinates are: 14.555183, 44.882332. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

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

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.

Note: This article was updated to include the dates and locations of Jan. 2018 strikes.

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
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (10) [ 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 23:05:00 local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 2
  • (1–2 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
    1–4

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

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

Civilian casualty statements

US 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

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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 2
  • (1–2 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
    1–4

Sources (50) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr094

Incident date

July 31, 2017

Location

الخثلة, Al Khathla, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.175453, 45.182058 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed five alleged AQAP militants, including foreign fighters, in Al Khathla village in the Juba area of Marib governorate, early on July 31st 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

According to AFP, a Yemeni security official said that five alleged militants were killed in a drone strike “likely to have been carried out by the United States”. The official said that “foreigners” were among those killed in the strike, which targeted a gathering of people “known to belong to Al-Qaeda”, though no further information was available on specific nationalities.

Some sources suggested that the strike took place on a house in the village, though others, including Aden al-Ghad, suggested the five were instead killed while travelling in a car. Yemen Press reported that, according to local sources, three drone strikes targeted the vehicle. Al Hakea noted that the village had previously been targeted i na US raid on May 23rd.

One local language Twitter source, @ali_alabd_, asserted that a “reformist leader”, named as “Blasney”, was killed in the strike along with four other militants, though no other sources corroborated this.

According to one source, SMA News, “a number of other” militants were wounded in the strike, which it reported took place as militants met in a house. As such, Airwars has assessed that a minimum of two militants were reportedly injured in the strike.

In an email to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US Central Command said there had been no US strikes in Marib province at that time. This did not preclude the possibility of a CIA action, however.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • 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
    5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (43) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention either a vehicle or a residential building being struck in the village of Al Khathla (الخثلة). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Khathla are: 15.175453, 45.182058.

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
    None known
  • 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
    5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (43) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr103

Incident date

October 4, 2017

Location

Yakla, Bayda, Yemen

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed two alleged AQAP militants, including AQAP leader Shroum al-Sanaani, in Yakla, in the Radaa area of Bayda governorate, on the evening of October 4th 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

In a later email to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a US Central Command spokesperson confirmed that a strike in Bayda governorate on October 4th had killed one AQAP fighter.

Several sources at the time, including AFP, reported that two men were killed while travelling on a motorbike in Yakla. One local language Twitter source, Hamrin News, suggested that both of those killed were leadership figures in AQAP, though most instead reported that al-Sanaani’s “companion” was unidentified.

The incident occured in the evening.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • 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

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • 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

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr154-C

Incident date

March 7, 2018

Location

الهدي, Al Hudhi, Hadhramout, Yemen

Geolocation

16.30299, 47.24515 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

One civilian was reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Al Hudhi, Hadhramout, at around 5pm on March 7th 2018, “a member of his family and independent observers” told The Intercept. Saleh al-Wuhair was reportedly killed as he stood on a hill in the area, looking for a mobile phone signal. No other known sources specifically reported this strike.

As The Intercept report noted: “Two days after Amer was killed [on march 5th], a man named Saleh al-Wuhair stood on top of a hill in al-Hudhi, looking for cell service to make a call. At around 5 p.m., a missile came flying down and killed him, according to a member of his family and independent observers in Yemen. Because the area was targeted twice in two days, tribe members drove out to al-Hudhi to urge residents to relocate to a safer place.”

Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars. An on-the-ground investigator reported that a strike had killed a twenty-year-old man while he was walking, likely referring to Saleh al-Wuhair, but suggested that the strike took place on March 8th.

Saleh was reportedly a member of the Al-Mahashima tribe, whose members were allegedly targeted by multiple strikes in March 2018. He was among a group of internally-displaced persons, who had fled fighting in Al-Jawf.

Local sources denied that Saleh had any affiliations to either AQAP or ISIS. One of his relatives told The Intercept that Saleh’s uncle was an AQAP leader killed by a drone strike around five years previously. Writing in The Guardian, Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohamed Askar said that a government committee had collected evidence that the target of strikes in the area at the beginning of March were civilians, but did not specifically mention this alleged event.

A US Central Command spokesperson later told the Long War Journal that a strike had taken place in Hadhramout on March 7th 2018. Since there were no other known reports of a strike on that day, this event is treated as confirmed. US Central Command also told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that allegations of civilian harm in this strike were ‘non-credible’, due to what it said was a lack of available evidence.

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 approximately 5:00 pm local time.

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
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention Al Hudhi (الهدي) without specifying whether it is an area or a settlement. One possible location for this incident is within the vicinity of the Hudhi (هدي) hill, for which the generic coordinates are: 16.30299, 47.24515. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

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.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm, No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • Apr 29, 2019
  • Email to Bureau of Investigative Journalism A CENTCOM spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: "After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances of each civilian casualty report you provided, all four were assessed to be non-credible."

  • 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

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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • 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.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr126

Incident date

December 19, 2017

Location

الكولة, Al Kawlah, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.54686, 45.41379 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Two alleged AQAP militants were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Al Kawlah, in the Wadi Obeida area of Marib governorate, on the evening of December 19th 2017, according to several sources. On January 10th 2018, a US Central Command statement confirmed that a strike took place in Marib on December 19th, killing “AQAP deputy arms facilitator” Habib Al-Sana’ani. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

In addition to Al-Sana’ani, pro-AQAP channels named the second militant killed as Azzam Al-Kazemi, according to Twitter source @demolinari. Both victims reportedly belonged to the Wyla tribe in Saada.

Local-language sources, such as @ayramyy11, indicated that the strike targeted the militants as they travelled through the area in a car. AFP alone appeared to indicate that the strike occurred on the evening of December 20th, though it is possible that this reflects confusion with a second strike (USYEMTr127) in the same area.

In its statement, CENTCOM described Al-Sana’ani as “an intermediary with ties to senior AQAP leadership and was responsible for facilitating the movement of weapons, explosives and finances into northern Marib and al Bayda governorates”.

The incident occured in the evening.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • 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

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Pro-AQAP channels named the alleged militants killed in the strike as Habib Al-Sana'ani (left) and Azzam Al-Kazemi (right) (@demolinari, December 20th 2017)
  • Azzam Al-Kazemi was later eulogised on a pro-AQAP feed by his "brother", Abu Salem Al-Kazemi (@demolinari, December 23rd 2017)
  • Azzam Al-Kazemi was later eulogised on a pro-AQAP feed by his "brother", Abu Salem Al-Kazemi (@demolinari, December 23rd 2017)
  • Azzam Al-Kazemi was later eulogised on a pro-AQAP feed by his "brother", Abu Salem Al-Kazemi (@demolinari, December 23rd 2017)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of Al Kawlah (الكولة) village, in the north east of Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة). The generic coordinates for Al Kawlah are: 15.54686, 45.41379 Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

U.S. air strikes kill senior AQAP militants
TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. air strikes in Yemen recently resulted in the death of key Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders.

U.S. forces continue sustained counterterrorism operations in Yemen against AQAP and ISIS, in coordination with the Government of Yemen, to degrade these groups’ ability to hold territory and coordinate external attacks.

External operations facilitator Miqdad al Sana’ani was killed in an air strike Dec. 15 in al-Bayda governorate.

Habib al-Sana’ani, AQAP deputy arms facilitator, who was an intermediary with ties to senior AQAP leadership and was responsible for facilitating the movement of weapons, explosives and finances into northern Marib and al-Bayda governorates, was killed in an airstrike Dec. 19 in Marib governorate.

Abu Umar al-Sana’ani, an AQAP Dawah committee member, was killed in an air strike Nov. 20 in al-Bayda governorate.
-30-

Follow CENTCOM on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • 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

Sources (12) [ collapse]