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

USYEMTr040-C

Incident date

March 5, 2017

Location

جبل نوفان, Jabal Novan, Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.493551, 44.760258 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Multiple sources reported that US drone strikes targeted alleged AQAP militant positions in Novan, in the Qaifa area of Bayda governorate, on the evening of March 5th. There was one known report of possible civilian injury due to the strike.

Local language Twitter sources reported that airstrikes targeted AQAP militants in the Novan mountains. The timing of local reports suggested that the strikes took place around 10.30pm local time.

According to Reuters, an airstrike hit the “home of a suspected al Qaeda member in the village of Noufan”. According to Elwatan News, local sources said that only civilians were wounded in the course of both this strike and a second overnight attack on al-Saeed, Shabwa. Though it was unclear which specific strike(s) resulted in civilian injury, the claim has been accounted for in this event.  A minimum of two civilian injuries has been set, and the claim assessed as “weak”.

This reported 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 reported that AQAP militants had begun to withdraw from several areas in response to US attacks.

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

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

The incident occured at approximately 10:30 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Jabal Novan (جبل نوفان), north from the town of Rada’a (رداع), within the Qifah (قيفه) district, for which the coordinates are: 14.493551, 44.760258. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

US Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    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

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
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr141-C

Incident date

January 26–27, 2018

Location

المصينعه, Al Mushainaah, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.351505, 46.762544 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Five civilians and two off duty Yemen soldiers from two local families, all men, were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in or near Al Mushainaah village, in the Saeed district of Shabwa governorate, at around midnight between January 26th-27th 2018. At the time of the strike, the men were reportedly searching for a missing 14-year old boy who was reportedly visiting Al-Qaeda militants.

Mwatana for Human Rights named the men killed as Saleh Muhammad Bin Olaywah (49 years old), Ziyad Saleh Muhammad Bin Olaywah (20 years old), Khalid Faraj Muhammad Bin Olaywah (37 years old), Ali Faraj Muhammad Bin Olaywah (34 years old), Nabil Salem Ba’adlan (40 years old), Mubarak Muhammad Saleh Hudaij (41 years old), and Najeeb Muhammad Saleh Lasma’ (25 years old). Mwatana found “no credible indication” that any of those killed were associated with any armed groups.

According to reporting by Associated Press, Saleh Muhammad Bin Olaywah’s son, 14-year old Abdullah, had gone with a friend to an AQAP camp in the mountains near Al-Masna’ah, after being told that the group was giving away free motorcycles. Speaking later with PBS Frontline, Abdullah said that “AQAP were messaging me and messaging my friends… They said, ‘Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you.’ So we went, although I didn’t really want to.”

Saleh, a taxi driver, reportedly went with his eldest son, Ziyad, and his brother-in-law, Nabil, to search for his younger son in Ataq.  They were later joined by two of Saleh’s nephews, Ali and Khalid. In the search, Saleh also enlisted the help of someone he knew from the al-Tolsi family, Mubarak, a beekeeper who knew the Al Mushainaah area. Mubarak’s nephew, Najeeb, a geology student, also joined the group.

The seven men were reportedly killed as they waited in a car at the foot of the mountains, in the Sar’ area, while a lookout took a message to the AQAP camp.  Sources indicated that two missiles from a drone targeted the vehicle. Ahmad Ali Al Arib Al Tawsali, a relative, told Mwatana that “It was a direct hit, killing everyone that was in the car, and their bodies were turned into nothing more than burnt body parts”.

Abdullah’s uncle, Ali Saleh, told PBS Frontline that Ziyad and Nabil were both members of the Yemeni army. “They were fighting the Houthis with no relationship to any illegal or terrorist organizations”, Ali said.  He also told PBS Frontline that he was now the sole provider for over thirty family members, and wanted the US to pay compensation for the strike.

A spokesperson for US Central Command later confirmed to Long War Journal that a strike had targeted AQAP in Shabwa on January 26th, but gave no further information on casualties or exact location.  There were no other known reports of strikes in Shabwa on that day.

Other sources, including Xinhua and AFP, suggested that those killed were AQAP militants, according to anonymous Yemeni officials.

Protests took place in Ataq in Shabwa in response to the strike. Al Jazeera reported that Saleh al-Aishi al-Ateeqi, another relative, “blamed the Arab coalition at war with Yemen for the deaths, saying it was responsible for the country’s airspace and protecting civilian lives”.

Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars, similarly indicating that seven had died in the strike.

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 its major report Death from the Sky, Yemen human rights group Mwatana insisted none of those killed had links to either Al Qaeda or ISIS, based on multiple interviews with relatives and officials.

One man who lost two relatives in the attack noted: “I woke everyone in the house with the worst kind of news imaginable. We got in the car and went off to see what had happened. I cannot forget the moment when I saw the two cars carrying the bodies. I asked to see them and I wish I had not. Many of them were disfigured and torn to pieces. I hugged them and sobbed until people removed me from the car.”

Mwatana also noted in its report that “Five days after the air strike killed the seven men, the families called for a protest in front of Ataq police station. Interviewees said that more than 150 people joined the protest, calling on the local authorities, the government, Security Council member states and the US government to look into the strike, and calling on the US to acknowledge responsibility for the strike.”

The incident occured around midnight.

The victims were named as:

Family members (5)

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 7
  • (7 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)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    7

Sources (26) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (27) [ collapse]

  • Ziyad Olaywah, the eldest son of Saleh, was reportedly one of those killed in the strike. According to some sources, he was a member of the Yemeni army. (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Najeeb Lasma', a geology student, was reportedly one of those killed in the strike (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • The family of those killed keep fragments of the missiles which allegedly killed seven civilians on January 26th 2018, which appears to show that they were of US manufacture (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Abdullah Saleh Olwayah (right) with his father, Saleh Olwayah, in Mukalla. Saleh was reportedly killed while out searching for his son. (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Relatives told AP that they had gathered these letters from Yemeni city council chiefs to prove that those killed were not AQAP members (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Abdullah Saleh Olaywah reportedly left his village when AQAP militants promised free motorcycles (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • The daughters of Khaled Olaywah, one of those reportedly killed in the strike (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Relatives provided AP with this image of the interior of the car after the strike (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Ali Olaywah, the nephew of Saleh, was reportedly one of those killed in the strike (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • The strike reportedly killed all seven men as they waited in a car at the foot of the mountains near Al-Mosna'a (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Khaled Olaywah, the nephew of Saleh, was reportedly one of those killed in the strike (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Mubarek Hudaij, a beekeeper, was reportedly one of those killed in the strike. He and his nephew, Najeeb, joined the search for Abdullah when Saleh called on them to help. (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Saleh Olaywah, a taxi driver, was reportedly killed when he went searching for his son, Abdullah (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Nabil Ba’adlan, the brother-in-law of Saleh, was one of those reportedly killed in the strike. According to some sources, he was a member of the Yemeni army. (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • A map, produced by AP, shows the location of Al-Shaaba, the family's home village, and Al Masna’ah, the location of the strike. The map shows the relative locations of Saleh and Abdullah when the latter texted the former that he was with AQAP militants. (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Weapon remnants found after the attack, which a weapon expert identified as being from an AGM-114 Hellfire missile. Photo received from a relative. (via Mwatana)
  • The car destroyed in the January 2018 air strike in Shabwah governorate, Yemen. Photo received from a relative. (Via Mwatana)
  • Letter from Taxi Drivers’ Syndicate stating that Saleh Mohammad bin Alawiya was working for them until he died in January 2018. Photo taken by a Mwatana researcher.
  • Letter from 30th November School stating Khaled Faraj Mohammad bin Alawiya was working for them until he died in January 2018. Photo taken by a Mwatana researcher.
  • Letter from Ministry of Oil and Minerals stating Ali Faraj Mohammad bin Alawiya worked with them and asking the Shabwah Police Department to release his salary. Via Mwatana
  • Letter from Shabwah Ministry of Local Administration stating the professions of the seven men killed in the strike, and noting that they had no affiliation with extremist groups. Photo taken by a Mwatana researcher
  • Letter from 21 Mechanized Brigade Commander stating Ziad Saleh Mohammad bin Alawiya and Nabil Salem Baadalan were both members of the brigade and were not affiliated with extremist groups. Photo taken by a Mwatana researcher.
  • Letter from Aden University Faculty of Oil and Minerals confirming that Najib Mohammad Saleh Lasmeh was a student. Photo taken by a Mwatana researcher.

Geolocation notes

Reports on the incident mention the village of Al Mushainaah ( المصينعه) for which the generic coordinates are: 14.351505, 46.762544.  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
    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: 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
    5 – 7
  • (7 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)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    7

Sources (26) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr174-C

Incident date

July 22, 2018

Location

الروضة, Al Rawda, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.448882, 45.345554 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At least three alleged AQAP militants were reportedly killed, and another injured, by a US drone strike against a house in Al Rawda, Marib governorate, on the evening of July 22nd 2018. A few social media sources at the time suggested that the strike had instead killed civilians.

A later US Central Command statement indicated that a strike had taken place on July 22nd, but CENTCOM later told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that this declared strike was in Hadramout governorate rather than Marib, with the Bureau noting that “US Central Command said it conducted strikes on July 22 and 24, both in Hadramout governorate, in response to a Bureau query on the monthly strike total.”

Two local language Twitter sources, @ALARSH_NEWS and @HHHE201001, reported that a US drone had targeted Internally Displaced Persons in Rawdat Thanah, killing three and resulting in “a number” of wounded. Another Twitter account, @Abbas_477, stated only that a US drone was “bombing citizens in Marib”.

Most, however, indicated that AQAP militants were killed in the alleged strike. Anatolia Agency reported that three militants were killed and one injured, when a US drone targeted a meeting taking place in a house, according to a security officer.

Others, including AP, AFP, and local language social-media sources, indicated that a strike had killed four militants. Tribal leaders told AP that four bodies, allegedly AQAP militants, were found after the attack. One source, @ShabbirTuri, suggested that ten had died, though this figure is potentially a misinterpretation of a confusing AFP headline.

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 in the evening.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • 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
    3–10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (29) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a house being struck in the Al Rawda (الروضة) area, south of Mar’ib (مأرب) city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Rawda are: 15.448882, 45.345554.

  • Reports of the incident mention a house being struck in the Al Rawda (الروضة) area, south of Mar’ib (مأرب) city.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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
  • 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.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • 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
    3–10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    1

Sources (29) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr038-C

Incident date

March 5–6, 2017

Location

يكلا, Yakla, 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)

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)

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.

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

USYEMTr143-C

Incident date

January 29, 2018

Location

القمعلة, Al Qam`alah, Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.06654, 45.50265 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Two people, including a 14-year old boy, were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Al Qam`alah, in the Dhi Naem area of Bayda governorate, on January 29th 2018. In a later email to the Long War Journal, a US Central Command spokesperson stated that a strike had targeted AQAP in Bayda on January 29th. Since there were no other known reported strikes in Bayda on that day, this event is treated as declared.

Sources, including Al-Arabi and Al-Masdar Online, named those killed as Yahia Abdullah al-Hassbi and Abdul Aziz Muhammad Al-Mashriqi. Associated Press later reported that 14-year old Yahia was killed as he tended goats seven kilometres from a checkpoint that AQAP had previously tried to seize. Other sources also indicated that a child had died in the strike. According to relatives and three local human rights workers, a passing construction worker, Al-Mashriqi, was also killed in the strike.

Other sources, however, suggested that the one or both of the individuals killed in the strike were members of the Yemeni government army and/or were AQAP militants.  According to Al-Arabi, sources indicated that both Yahia and Abdul were AQAP members fighting against the Houthis in the area, and said that their tribe, the Al Omar, had disavowed them three years previously. AQAP militants have been previously reported to have fought alongside pro-Hadi forces.

A local source told Al-Masdar Online that the strike, which targeted a “resistance point” in the Al-Maqqa area, had killed two resistance elements named as Yahia and Abdul, and had wounded others. The source also said that continued drone flights prevented paramedics from reaching the wounded, for fear of follow-up strikes.

A pro-government commander, Mohamed al-Ghunaimi, told Anatolia Agency that the two killed were pro-government fighters.  “We are sure the Americans conducted the air strike. They always bomb us and accuse us of being Al-Qaeda,” he said.

Accounting for these conflicting reports, Airwars has assessed that there were reports of between one and two civilian deaths, and between one and two militant deaths. At least two combatants were reportedly injured in the strike.

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 local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 2
  • (1 child1 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
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • A fragment of the missile that reportedly killed Yahia Al-Hassbi (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • A fragment of the missile that reportedly killed Yahia Al-Hassbi (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Fourteen-year-old Yahia al-Hassbi was reportedly killed in the US strike. Several sources indicated that he was killed while tending to goats, though some instead reported that he was a combatant. (AP, November 14th 2018)
  • Abdul Aziz Muhammad Al-Mashriqi was reportedly killed in the strike. Some sources suggested that he was a civilian construction worker, while others indicated that he was an active combatant (AP, November 14th 2018)

Geolocation notes

Reports on the incident mention the village of Al Qam`alah (القمعلة) for which the generic coordinates are: 14.06654,45.50265. 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
    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: 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 child1 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
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (15) [ 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

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

USYEMTr081-C

Incident date

April 30, 2017

Location

الجيف, Al Jayf, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

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

Airwars assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

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

Summary

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

Sources (30) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

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

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

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

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

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

Sources (30) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr079-C

Incident date

April 23, 2017

Location

الضلعه, Al Dhula'ah, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.36518, 47.001057 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

On April 24th 2017, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis stated that a US strike had killed eight AQAP militants in Shabwa governorate on the previous day, confirming earlier reports that an afternoon US drone strike in Al Dhula’ah, in the Al Said area, had killed eight people. Several sources reported, however, that at least three – and potentially all of those killed – were civilians.

Several sources reported that three civilians were killed in the attack, whom multiple sources named as cousins Mansour Salem Lahoul Al-Barasi Al-Awlaqi; Khaled bin Nasser Lahoul Al-Barasi Al-Awlaqi; and Nasser Muhammed Saeed Lahoul Al-Barasi Al-Awlaqi. According to one source, the cousins were members of the “Southern Resistance of Al Baras tribe”.

According to The Intercept, Mansour was “a former Yemeni Army lieutenant in his late thirties”, while, of his two 23-year-old cousins killed in the strike, Khalid was “home on vacation from Malaysia, where he was studying English”.

Sources differed on the exact circumstances of the reported civilian deaths.  According to Aden Al-Ghad, the cousins were driving behind a car carrying alleged AQAP militants, and were killed when a strike missed the AQAP vehicle and destroyed the civilian vehicle. Reuters reported that, according to residents and local sources, three civilians were killed “who happened to be passing nearby”.

Other sources, including AFP, suggested that the three civilians were killed in a second ‘double tap’ strike after having gone to the aid of those caught in a first strike.

The Intercept instead reported that the three men were at a security checkpoint at the time of the strike, when they were joined by a car full of five “local militants”, and were killed shortly after sending someone to fetch lunch.

According to multiple sources, the US drone strike took place at the Al-Saeed junction.  Most sources agreed that three AQAP militants were additionally killed in the strike, though several indicated that five had died.

However, speaking with The Intercept, Mansour Al-Awlaqi’s nephew, Ammar Salim Farid, denied that any of those killed were current AQAP members. “To be honest, the five people in the car had past links to [terror groups], but they had quit this movement two years ago,” he said.

Yemen Shabab named the dead alleged AQAP militants as Mohammed Awad Barasin; Shawky Awad Barasin; Abdullah Ali Barasin; Muhammad Ali Jaar; and Hamad Ali Jaar, and indicated that they were killed as they travelled to the Habban district.

Mohammed Awad Barasin was also reported to be the “second man” of AQAP in Shabwa governorate. The Pentagon told Fox News that he had “planned external attacks and coordinated the group’s movement of weapons and explosives”. However, Ammar Salim Farid Al-Awlaqi denied this, saying that Mohammed had been a member of both AQAP and the Islamic State, but had since left both groups.

Ammar told the Intercept that he heard the strike from his home. “We went to the cemetery and found Mansoor, Khalid, and Nasir, all but pieces of flesh [so] that we were not able to tell their appearances… It was a shock no human can accept and there’s anger at the U.S. government.”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism later reported that, following The Intercept article, CENTCOM told the Bureau that “after a thorough review, they concluded the civilian casualty allegations from the strike were not credible”.

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

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 afternoon.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

Family members (3)

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 8
  • (3–8 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)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8

Sources (39) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (8) [ collapse]

  • Khalid Nasir Abdullah Bin Lahul al-Barasi al-Awlaqi was reportedly killed in the April 23rd 2017 US drone, though several sources reported that he was a civilian (@alaqalaq, April 23rd 2017)
  • "This photo supplied by Ammar Salim Farid Alawlaqi shows Mansoor Allahwal Baras, killed in an April 23 drone strike, with a phrase attributed to the Prophet Muhammad that reads, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is in grief, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. We belong to Allah and to Him we return.”" (The Intercept, May 19th 2017)
  • Mansour Salem Mansour bin Lahul Al-Barasi Al-Awlaqi was reportedly killed in the April 23rd 2017 US drone strike. Several sources reported that he was a civilian. (@alawalaq, April 23rd 2017)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the Al Dhua’lia (الضلعه), in the vicinity of Habban (حبان) town. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Dhua’lia are: 14.36518, 47.001057.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the Al Dhua’lia (الضلعه), in the vicinity of Habban (حبان) town.

    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
  • May 4, 2017
  • We can confirm that there was a US strike in Marib on April 19 as well as a strike in Shabwah on April 23. We are aware of the reports of CIVCAS allegations and are looking into them. Regards, CENTCOM

  • Following the Intercept piece, we followed up with US Central Command. They said that after a thorough review, they concluded the civilian casualty allegations from the strike were not credible.

  • 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

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.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 8
  • (3–8 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)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8

Sources (39) [ collapse]