Some local-language social media sources suggested that a US drone strike targeted alleged militants in Shaqra, Khanfar district of Abyan governorate, early on September 4th 2020. Most reports, however, instead indicated that strikes had been carried out by a drone of the UAE or UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council just after midnight, targeting forces associated with the Saudi-backed government of President Hadi. There were no known reports of civilian harm.
Two of the sources that alleged US responsibility for the strike indicated that AQAP or ISIS militants had been the target. One local-language Twitter user, @marib__dam, reported that a US drone had bombed a “car carrying al-Qaeda operatives, including Abu al-Bara al-Qifi and his companions in Shaqra”, while @hsin_sad reported that a US drone had “burned ISIS and al-Qaeda groups” in Shaqra.
A third Twitter source, @Mukhtar03296421, indicated that a US drone had instead targeted a car next to “militias affiliated with the Yemeni government”, killing “dozens” of militants.
News sources, however, instead assigned responsibility to the UAE or UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, with some suggesting that the strike reflected the first use of drones in the conflict by these parties.
The Yemen Press Agency reported that, according to “sources”, a drone “likely belonging to the UAE carried out two raids after midnight on Thursday, which bombed Hadi and Islah militias groups in Shakra district”, killing and wounding “several”. Likewise, Debriefer indicated that strikes “believed to be carried out by the forces of the UAE-backed southern transitional council” had injured “at least 12 government troops, including a senior officer”.
According to Right Now Times, a Yemeni military source told Sputnik that “two unidentified drones” had conducted two strikes in the area, injuring four soldiers and damaging a vehicle. According to the report, the targeted forces responded with anti-aircraft fire. The reported original Sputnik article could not be found by Airwars researchers.
Given competing ascriptions of responsibility for the alleged strike, this event has been assessed by Airwars as “contested”. At least four belligerents were reportedly injured, with a maximum of twelve. Accounting for the allegation of “several” killed and wounded, minimum reported belligerent deaths has been set at two, with a maximum of twenty-four, accounting for the report of “dozens” killed.
The incident occured around midnight.