US Forces in Yemen

Mabkhout Ali al Ameri with his 18-month old son Mohammed, shortly after a botched US raid on al Ghayil in January 2017 had killed at least 20 villagers, including Mohammed's mother Fatim Saleh Mohsen. © Iona Craig

Belligerent
US Forces
Country
Yemen
start date
end date
Civilian Harm Status
Belligerent Assessment
Declassified Documents
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USYEMTr130

Incident date

January 2–3, 2018

Location

قيفه, Qifah, Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

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

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

At least two alleged AQAP militants were reportedly killed by at least one US drone strike in Qifah, Bayda governorate, late on January 2nd-3rd 2018. Others suggested that a strike had killed two pro-government militia members and wounded others. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

One source, @demolinari, indicated that a US drone had launched two strikes in Qifah overnight from January 2nd to January 3rd, killing three “suspected AQAP militants”, all reportedly from Lawdar city, in Abyan. No other sources indicated that two strikes had taken place. According to this source, pro-AQAP channels published laments for militants Jarrah Al-Salmi and Abu Mohammed Al-Ibbi, also known as Safwan Al-Boani, and indicated that they were killed on January 2nd.

Some local-language social media sources, including @waelakram4, @AdenNowNews and @abu__sanad, also reported that an AQAP statement had said that two militants, named as Ahmed Abdullah Al-Qaheeh Al-Dian Al-Awlaki and Abdullah Ali Riqab Al-Dian Al-Awlaki, were killed by a strike in Qifah on January 2nd. It was unclear if those named were the same as the two alleged militants mentioned above.

Some sources further suggested that a US strike had killed two members of the pro-Hadi “resistance”, though it was unclear if this precluded AQAP membership. Social media sources @yemenat and @alraya_n, among others, specified that two members of the “resistance” had been killed by a US drone strike. AQAP members have sometimes reportedly fought alongside tribal militias against Houthi forces, leading to complex relationships between these groups and AQAP.

Yemen Now suggested that, according to local sources, “others” from the “resistance” were wounded in the strike, leading Airwars to assess a minimum of two belligerents reportedly injured. Given that four named fatalities were given by sources, the maximum number of reported belligerent deaths has been set at four.

One source, @MaxSecurityLTD, indicated on January 3rd that a strike had taken place in Dhi Kalb, in Qifah, though it is possible that this refers to an earlier strike on January 1st 2018.

In an email to Long War Journal, a US Central Command spokesperson confirmed that a strike took place against AQAP in Bayda on January 3rd. Since there were no known reports of other strikes in Bayda at that time, and given that the strike reportedly took place at night, this event is treated as declared.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • According to two English-language sources, pro-AQAP channels indicated that militants Jarrah Al-Salmi and Abu Mohammed Al-Ibbi were killed by a US drone strike in Qayfa on January 2nd 2018 (@demolinari, January 3rd 2018)
  • According to two English-language sources, pro-AQAP channels indicated that militants Jarrah Al-Salmi and Abu Mohammed Al-Ibbi were killed by a US drone strike in Qayfa on January 2nd 2018 (@demolinari, January 3rd 2018)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

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

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

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

In a major move toward transparency, US Central Command (CENTCOM) provided details to FDD’s Long War Journal on US air strikes against Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Since early 2017, the military previously provided little information on the Yemen air campaign, typically providing only an aggregate number and limited detail on high-value target strikes.

In an email to LWJ, CENTCOM’s Major Josh T. Jacques disclosed the dates and locations of the last five months of strikes in Yemen. The information revealed that since the beginning of 2018, the US campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen has focused on three governorates: Hadramout (eight strikes), Al Bayda (17), and Shabwa (three), demonstrating the eastern reach of the terrorist group.

Last year’s publicized strikes were concentrated in the central governorates of Al Bayda and Marib.

Location of US air strikes against AQAP and the Islamic State in 2018:

– Jan. 2018: Ten total strikes. The US conducted 8 strikes against AQAP in Bayda on Jan. 1, 3, 9, 12, 13, 20, 25, and 29. An additional strike against AQAP in Shabwah occurred on Jan. 26. An additional strike against the Islamic State occurred on Jan. 12 in Bayda.

– Feb. 2018: Six total strikes, all in Al Bayda governorate. Strikes occurred on Feb. 7, 11, 12, 16, and 24 (two strikes were conducted on Feb. 24).

– Mar. 2018: Seven total strikes, six of which occurred in Hadramout. Strikes occurred on Mar. 4 (two strikes), 5, 7, 8, and 13. An additional strike in Bayda occurred on March 29. [AQAP’s apparent entrenchment in eastern Yemen is concerning. In addition to the concentration of strikes in Hadramout, CENTCOM previously disclosed that AQAP operated training camps in the governorate as recently as April 2018, when they were targeted by American strikes.]

– Apr. 2018: Four total strikes, one each in Shabwah (April 26) and Al Bayda (April 23), and two in Hadramout (both on April 11).

– May 2018: One strike, in Shabwah on May 14.

– Jun. 2018: No strikes to date.

The US military has stepped up its counterterrorism campaign against al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen as well as the Islamic State since President Trump took office in 2017. Last year, the US launched 131 strikes (125 against AQAP and six against the Islamic State), nearly tripling the previous yearly high of 44 strikes in 2016.

At the current pace, the US will fall far short of that mark; there have been 28 strikes reported by CENTCOM in Yemen in the first five months of 2018.

This counterterrorism campaign has targeted AQAP’s infrastructure, including its training camps and media operations, which serve as a hub for al Qaeda’s global communications. The US has killed several mid-level AQAP leaders and media officials in its air campaign.

Despite suffering setbacks after seizing large areas of southern and central Yemen between 2015-2016, AQAP remains a persistent threat to both the embattled Yemeni government and US interests worldwide. AQAP still controls remote rural areas in Yemen and operates training camps. The group’s master bomb maker, Ibrahim al Asiri, who has engineered several bombs which have evaded airport security, remains one of the most wanted jihadists on the planet.

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
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr016

Incident date

March 2, 2017

Location

حصن سعيد, Fort Saeed, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.433773, 46.270462 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Some sources reported that US forces were involved in a beach landing operation on Nakheela beach, on the al-Maraqisha coast, Abyan governorate, in the region of or near the village of Mogan, at dawn on March 2nd 2017.  This raid allegedly took place in tandem with a reported combined arms operation, with which the US was also allegedly involved, in the same area.

It was unclear, from the available sources, whether the reported coastal landing was distinct from another troop landing described by multiple sources as taking place in Mogan (USYEMTr015). Some sources suggested that Emirati special forces and Arab coalition air power supported the landing. There were no known reports of civilian harm.

According to an AQAP statement, special forces were deployed on the Nakheela beach, on the al-Maraqisha coast, near the “village of Mogan”, but retreated when they were “exposed”.  The statement did not mention any other landings in the area.  Multiple sources reported, with apparent photographic evidence, that military boot prints, paw prints, and ammunition were discovered in or near Mogan, with some indicating that they were found “on the beach”.

Later reporting by The Intercept indicated that the photographed boot prints were of the same type “often worn by members of SEAL Team 6”.   In addition, food and drink packaging reportedly used by the US military was allegedly found and photographed alongside an Emirati-branded water bottle. Images of ammunition allegedly found in the area appeared to show rounds tipped with green paint; US forces are known to use 5.56mm ammunition with green paint tips.

According to Al-Ain, local sources said that a sea-landing operation occurred independently of a distinct landing in Mogan, “to pursue the [al-Qaeda] members there”.  According to reporting by Akhbar al-Youm, the seaborne landing took place in Husn Saeed, a small coastal village, “10km from the Mogan region”, additionally to a landing in Mogan town.

Multiple sources also suggested that troops were deployed in Mogan town or area by means of a helicopter landing.  One local source told Marib Press that the attack by US forces on AQAP elements involved raids by “helicopters and drones”, “just before the helicopters landed a military force that clashed with al-Qaeda militants”.  Due to uncertainty around the location of the raid or raids in the area, with sources variously describing Mogan as an area or as a specific town or settlement, as well as sources describing the beach landing as a distinct event, this entry has been created to reflect the possibility that the beach landing constituted a discrete raid in the same area.  As such, it is possible that this event is the same as that described in USYEMTr015, and that reported amphibious and helicopter landings formed part of the same raid.

Several local language and English language sources reported that US special forces had been deployed at dawn into the coastal town or area of Mogan and clashed with alleged militants for some time before withdrawing.  Various sources suggested that a number of targets were involved.  According to al-Arabi and other news sites, “security and military sources” indicated that the operation likely targeted AQAP camps in the locality.  Aljanoob Yemen quoted an anonymous local source, allegedly spoken with by Sky News Arabia, who said that multiple sites were hit in Mogan, where there were “both Yemeni and foreign leaderships for al-Qaeda”; this was also reported by Al-Ain, drawing on a “Yemeni source”.  Al-Ain, further, reported that US forces “targeted an al-Qaeda training camp in a school in Mogan Al-Hasinah area”.  Multiple local language news sources, however, cited a local doctor, allegedly spoken with by an Anatolia Press correspondent, who denied that any militants were present in the area.

Multiple sources indicated that the alleged ground raid was accompanied by, and directly supported, by the deployment of air power in the area.  Local language social media sources reported that multiple presumed AQAP targets in Mogan were hit by airstrikes around dawn on March 2nd; according to one source, at least ten strikes took place in the “Mogan region”.  According to Akhbar al-Youm, local sources reported that “unmanned drones, Apache [helicopters] and American naval battleships” launched strikes on sites in the region, while a “military source” indicated that over twenty airstrikes took place in Mogan, not accounting for naval bombardment.  According to the local doctor reportedly spoken with by Anatolia Press, air strikes immediately preceded the arrival of ground forces, and a jet bombed sites in the town “in conjunction” with the raid.  Another local source, allegedly spoken to by Sky News Arabia, said that “the landing process coincided with missile strikes from the US Navy on the organization’s sites in Mogan”.  In a statement, AQAP claimed that indiscriminate shelling by warships and jets took place to cover the withdrawal of ground troops from Nakheela beach.

One local language Twitter source suggested that further strikes by F-16 jets took place immediately after the withdrawal of troops.

Multiple sources raised questions over the involvement of Emirati or Arab Coalition forces in the operation.  According to an AQAP statement describing the beach landing, as well as some local language sources, Arab Coalition jets were involved in conducting airstrikes in the area alongside US air forces. According to AQAP’s news outlet, UAE air forces launched “approximately twelve” rockets at the village of Mogan at 1:30 AM, before a period of combined bombing by US and Saudi-led Coalition aircraft from 2 AM to 3 AM.

Various sources also alleged that Emirati special forces were involved in ground operations alongside American troops.  One local language Twitter source reported that Emirati soldiers had been killed at “Mojan Camp… during their participation in the landing operation carried out by American forces”.  Akhbar al-Youm reported that, according to some observers, the manner in which the raid was implemented bore an “Emirati imprint”.

At the time of the operation, US officials denied any activities beyond airstrikes in Yemen, discounting participation in any ground raid or the involvement of any warships.  On Friday March 3rd, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis told reporters “I know there have been reports of firefights, raids, there have not been any that US forces have been involved in”.  On March 16th, however, The Intercept reported that an anonymous “senior US military official” had confirmed to them that Navy SEALs had aborted a mission on March 2nd for unknown reasons, after which the Joint Special Operations Command instead opted for drone strikes against AQAP targets.

The outcome of the operation was also unclear.  No known sources reported civilian casualties.  One local language Twitter source stated that there were reportedly “dozens” of “dead and wounded” extremists as the result of airstrikes in the aftermath of the raid.  As mentioned above, one source indicated that Emirati soldiers had been killed.  Most sources indicated that clashes had taken place on the ground; one local language Twitter source, however, suggested that US forces had landed in areas distant from AQAP forces, and had withdrawn without engaging in combat.  It was unclear whether any of the reported casualties had been inflicted specifically as part of a distinct beach landing event.

Given the lack of clarity around this event, and since no casualties were reported that can be specifically ascribed to a discrete beach landing, potential casualty figures are reflected in USYEMTr015 only.  USYEMTr015 treats reported helicopter landings and the beach landing as potentially part of a single US troop landing.

On March 3rd, Reuters reported that, according to residents, US ground operations had taken place in Mogan at dawn on the 3rd, at around 5am, with clashes lasting for around half an hour.  No other sources could be found that mention ground operations on March 3rd, however; it is therefore likely that this report mistakenly refers to the operation on March 2nd.

This strike allegedly took place amid the dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP in March 2017; on March 2nd, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davies announced that “more than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah” early that morning.  On March 3rd, the Associated Press reported that Yemeni officials and residents said that the US had conducted “dozens of airstrikes on al-Qaida targets in Yemen overnight and in the past 48 hours in one of the lengthiest, sustained operations inside this conflict-torn Arab country”.  A US military intelligence source told NBC News that the strikes were “part of ‘new directives’ to aggressively pursue the Dhahab and Qayfa clans”.  Estimates of the total death toll on March 2nd varied; on March 3rd, Reuters reported that Thursday’s strikes left “at least nine” dead, while officials speaking with the Associated Press said that seven alleged militants had been killed.  Oman Daily reported that 12 “suspected al-Qaeda members in Yemen” had been killed on March 2nd.

The incident occured around dawn.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (54) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (14) [ collapse]

  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Paw prints were alleged to demonstrate the presence of military dogs. (Waheeb, March 2nd 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Paw prints were alleged to demonstrate the presence of military dogs, while the boot prints were reported to be of the same kind as those worn by US Navy SEALs. (Waheeb, March 2nd 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Food and drink packaging bore Emirati markings, and some were reportedly of kinds commonly used by US forces (Almawqea Post, March 2nd 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence, including ammunition, of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. (@demolinari, December 31st 2017)
  • AQAP channels claimed that a failed beach landing had taken place near Mogan (@Dr_E_Kendall, March 3rd 2017)
  • AQAP channels claimed that a failed beach landing had taken place near Mogan (@Dr_E_Kendall, March 6th 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Boot prints were reported to be of the same kind as those worn by US Navy SEALs. (@demolinari, March 17th 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Paw prints were alleged to demonstrate the presence of military dogs, while the boot prints were reported to be of the same kind as those worn by US Navy SEALs. (@demolinari, March 17th 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Food and drink packaging bore Emirati markings, and some were reportedly of kinds commonly used by US forces (Almawqea Post, March 2nd 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Food and drink packaging bore Emirati markings, and some were reportedly of kinds commonly used by US forces (Almawqea Post, March 2nd 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence, including ammunition, of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. (Al-Ain, March 2nd 2017)
  • Photos allegedly showed evidence of the presence of ground forces, reportedly taken at the coast, in or near Mogan. Paw prints were alleged to demonstrate the presence of military dogs, while the boot prints were reported to be of the same kind as those worn by US Navy SEALs. (@demolinari, December 31st 2017)
  • Local news sources suggested that a US operation had taken place in Mogan (al-Mayadeen, March2nd 2017)
  • Local news sources suggested that a US operation had taken place in Mogan (@BelqeesTV, March2nd 2017)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention Fort Saeed (حصن سعيد) in the vicinity of Mojan (موجان), for which the coordinates are: 13.433773, 46.270462. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention Fort Saeed (حصن سعيد) in the vicinity of Mojan (موجان).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

U.S. forces conducted a series of precision strikes in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in the early morning of March 2 (Yemen time). More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah.

The strikes were conducted in partnership with the Government of Yemen, and were coordinated with President Hadi. The Government of Yemen is a valuable counter-terrorism partner, and we support its efforts to bring stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP.

The strikes will degrade the AQAP's ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to use territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen as a safe space for terror plotting. Targets of the strikes included militants, equipment, infrastructure, heavy weapons systems and fighting positions.

AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct, and inspire terror attacks against the United States and our allies. U.S. forces will continue to work with the Government of Yemen to defeat AQAP and deny it the ability to operate in Yemen.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (54) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr053

Incident date

March 29–30, 2017

Location

جبل المراقشه, Jabal Al Maraqisha, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.561668, 46.134923 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

US Navy warships reportedly bombarded alleged AQAP targets in the vicinity of al-Maroun, in the al-Maraqisha area of Abyan, overnight from March 29th to March 30th. There are no known associated reports of civilian casualties.

Multiple sources indicated that continuous fire from warships off the Abyan coast targeted various AQAP sites in the mountainous al-Maraqisha area, including Mogan and al-Maroun. Images of alleged US illumination shells were posted on social media the day after the reported strikes.

According to one source, four AQAP militants were killed in the course of the shelling in the al-Maraqisha area, though it was unclear in which specific strike these casualties were alleged to have been killed. This claim has been accounted for in event USYEMTr052.

Several local language social media sources also suggested that US ground forces were deployed in the area, variously described as a success and a failure by different sources, but no further information was available.

Late on March 30th, a few Twitter sources indicated that a naval bombardment was taking place in the area, possibly indicating that the strikes continued into the night of March 30th to March 31st.  These sources may constitute late reporting of the initial reported strikes.

This reported action took place amid a dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP in March 2017. On April 3rd, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said that, from February 28th to the final week of March, fifty US airstrikes were conducted in Yemen.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • US naval artillery reportedly targeted AQAP sites in al-Maraqisha overnight from March 29th to March 30th. On March 30th, photos of alleged US illumination shells emerged on social media (@demolinari, March 30th 2017)
  • US naval artillery reportedly targeted AQAP sites in al-Maraqisha overnight from March 29th to March 30th. On March 30th, photos of alleged US illumination shells emerged on social media (@demolinari, March 30th 2017)
  • US naval artillery reportedly targeted AQAP sites in al-Maraqisha overnight from March 29th to March 30th. On March 30th, photos of alleged US illumination shells emerged on social media (@demolinari, March 30th 2017)
  • US naval artillery reportedly targeted AQAP sites in al-Maraqisha overnight from March 29th to March 30th. On March 30th, photos of alleged US illumination shells emerged on social media (@sanaawald, March 30th 2017)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Maroun (المرون) within the area of Jabal Al Maraqisha (جبل المراقشه), for which, due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Jabal Al Maraqisha are: 13.561668, 46.134923

  • Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Maroun (المرون) within the area of Jabal Al Maraqisha (جبل المراقشه).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr101

Incident date

September 11, 2017

Location

جاعر, In the vicinity of Ja'ar, Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.25000, 45.83333 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

At least one US drone strike reportedly killed at least two alleged AQAP militants in the Al-Sallabah and Ja’er area of Sama’a district, in Bayda governorate, on the afternoon of September 11th 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

According to some Twitter sources including @demolinari, the strike targeted a vehicle in the Sama’a area. Residents told Al-Masdar Online that a US drone strike had targeted alleged AQAP sites in the Al-Sallabah and Ja’er area of Sama’a.

One source, @yemencurrent, suggested that the strike targeted a car and a motorbike, killing five AQAP militants and injuring others. To account for this, Airwars has assessed that between two and five militants were reportedly killed, and at least two reportedly injured.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of Ja’ar (جاعر) village, in the northern region of the Al Sawma’ah district (مديرية الصومعة). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Ja’ar are: 14.25000, 45.83333.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr205

Incident date

August 24, 2019

Location

عقبة القنذع, Aqaba Al Qandha, Between Al Bayda and Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.680437, 45.594356 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

One local-language social media source, @tlaal661, reported on August 24th 2019 that two US airstrikes had targeted alleged AQAP militants in the Aqaba Al Qandha area “between Al-Bayda and Shabwa” governorates. There were no known further public reports of a strike, and no information about alleged casualties was available.

The report came a few days prior to the beginning of a reported Emirati air campaign in southern Yemen on August 28th 2019, apparently in support of secessionist forces with the Southern Transitional Council (STC).

In a statement, the Emirati foreign ministry indicated that the later strikes had targeted “terrorist militias”, though others indicated that the attacks were targeting Yemeni military forces supporting the Saudi-led Coalition. AQAP militants have been previously reported to have fought alongside, and sometimes integrated into, Yemeni government forces. As such, it is possible that this event reflects an early Emirati strike.

On October 4th 2019, a US Central Command spokesperson told New America that no US military strikes had been conducted in Yemen since June 24th 2019. This does not however preclude this having been a possible CIA action, or a clandestine US military action.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (21) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Aqaba Al Qandha (عقبة القنذع) area on the border of Shabwa (شبوة) and Al Bayda (البيضاء) governorates. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Aqaba Al Qandha are: 14.680437, 45.594356.

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

On October 4, 2019, United States Central Command (CENTCOM) replied to an email inquiry from New America confirming that “the last strike conducted by CENTCOM in Yemen was 24 June.” Per that statement, there were no CENTCOM strikes in Yemen in September 2019.

The lack of strikes in September makes it more than three months since the last U.S. military counterterrorism strike in Yemen, according to New America’s research. However, it is possible that the United States has conducted covert non-military strikes, and in recent years there have been a small number of strikes attributed by media reports to the United States that CENTCOM has denied conducting

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (21) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr228

Incident date

June 24, 2020

Location

وادي عبيدة, Wadi Obaida, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.515556, 45.395278 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted alleged AQAP militants in the Wadi Obaida area of Marib city, in Marib governorate, on the evening of June 24th 2020, according to some sources. There were no known reports of civilian harm.

One source, @ksa2030_n, claimed that a senior AQAP leader was killed in the strike.  The Yemen Press Agency reported that the militants were targeted as they attempted to escape from fighting against Saudi-led coalition forces in Qaniyah, in nearby Bayda governorate.

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

The incident occured in the evening.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة) area, east 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 Wadi Obeida are: 15.515556, 45.395278.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة) area, east of Mar’ib (مأرب) city.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr096-C

Incident date

August 13, 2017

Location

المرون , بالقرب من الخبر, Al Maroun, in the vicinity of Al Khabr, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.434036, 46.166267 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

In an email to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US Central Command stated that a strike was conducted against AQAP in Abyan governorate on August 13th 2017, confirming multiple earlier reports that at least two alleged AQAP militants were killed in at least one afternoon US drone strike in Al Maroun, in the Khabr Maraqisha area of Abyan governorate.

However several sources, including Mwatana, insisted the victims were civilians.

While most sources reported at the time that two AQAP militants were killed in the strike, one (@demolinari) suggested that “some locals” had claimed that neither were members of AQAP, raising the possibility of civilian harm, but noted that “some pro-AQAP channels suggest otherwise”. The same source also tweeted a photo of the dead, naming one as Abu Aseed Al-Marqashi, who was however apparently pictured as an active AQAP militant in Mukalla during “the 2015-16 period”.

Several other sources named the two dead as Khidr Saeed Al-Dahl, possibly also known as Al-Zuhal, and Nasser Bin Jarada.

Some suggested that more than two alleged militants were killed in the strike.  According to Xinhua, a Yemeni security source said that “about three wanted al-Qaida elements” were killed after two missiles were fired by a US drone. One local language Twitter source suggested that there were “reports of dozens” of militants killed in the Al-Maroun area. However this is not supported by any other source.

Sources differed on the exact circumstances of the strike. Some suggested that the attack killed two men while they stood next to a water well, while others reported that a vehicle, either a car or a motorcycle, was targeted in the area. One alleged photo of the scene showed a destroyed car. According to Mwatana, the victims “were sitting under a nearby tree when the strike occurred.” Sources reported that the strike took place between 3.30pm and 4pm.

Though most sources attributed the strike to the US, one source suggested that strikes were carried out by the UAE.  Since the US Central Command later confirmed a strike in the area, Airwars has not assessed this strike as Contested.

Xinhua reported that, according to local sources, two other strikes targeted alleged AQAP militants in the same area and time period. According to these sources, “two other hideouts of the al-Qaida group in the area were bombed in an earlier attack that took place at about 2pm local time”. It was not clear whether these were alleged US strikes and no additional details were provided. No other known sources reported these additional strikes.

According to Aden al-Ghad, “dozens” of families were displaced following the attack “for fear of indiscriminate shelling”.

In an email to the Bureau, US Central Command said at the time that it was still assessing the results of the strike.

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.”

In March 2021, in its report death Falling From The Sky, the Yemeni human rights group Mwatana insisted those killed were civilian beekeepers, who looked after approximately 80 hives near the village of Mroun. The men were buried in Hosn Saiid Cemetery, about 7km from their homes. Mwatana insisted that it could find “no credible indication that either El Khodor or Ali were directly participating in hostilities with AQAP or IS-Y, or that they were associated with these groups.”

The area sheikh told the human rights group: ““I have been sheikh to this village for 17 years and I knew those boys who died in the incident. They were two of the finest youth of our village.”

The incident occured between 3:30 pm and 4:00 pm local time.

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 targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (37) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (9) [ collapse]

  • Several sources suggested that the strike targeted a vehicle travelling in Al-Maroun, Khabr Maraqisha area (@AwdMohmmed, August 13th 2017). However Mwata's March 2021 report suggests this vehicle was not connected to this event.
  • According to several sources, two alleged militants were killed in a US drone strike on August 13th 2017 (@demolinari, August 13th 2017)
  • One of those reportedly killed, named as "Abu Aseed Al-Marqashi", reportedly pictured as an AQAP fighter in Mukalla during the "2015-16 period" (@demolinari, August 16th 2017).
  • Weapon remnants found after the attack, which a weapons expert identified as likely parts of an AGM-114 Hellfire missile. Photo taken by a Mwatana researcher.
  • Weapon remnants found after the attack, which a weapons expert identified as likely parts of an AGM-114 Hellfire missile. Photo taken by a Mwatana researcher.
  • The mattress both men were sitting on before the strike, found at the site of the August 13, 2017 strike. Photo taken by a Mwatana field researcher.
  • Debris found at the site of the August 13, 2017 strike. Photo taken by a Mwatana field researcher.
  • The tree where the two men were sitting immediately before the August 13, 2017 strike. Photo taken by a Mwatana field researcher.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Al Maroun (المرون) area, allegedly in vicinity of Al Khabr (الخبر), south of the Al Maraqisha mountains (جبل المراقشه). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Khabr are: 13.434036, 46.166267.

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.

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 targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (37) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr171

Incident date

June 30, 2018

Location

البيضاء, شبوه, حضرموت, Al Bayda, Shabwah, or Hadramout, Yemen

Geolocation

15.301065, 47.856830 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Province/governorate

Airwars assessment

A US airstrike targeted AQAP in either Shabwah, Hadramawt or Al-Bayda governorate on June 30th 2018, according to CENTCOM. There were no known public reports of a strike on that date.

According to the Yemen monitor New America: “On July 3rd, CENTCOM confirmed in an email to New America that it conducted two air strikes in Yemen in June 2018. One strike occurred on June 23rd and another on June 30th. CENTCOM did not provide further details on the location, target, or number of casualties from the strikes.”

An August 30th CENTCOM release narrowed the event down to three provinces: “U.S. Central Command has conducted six counterterrorism air strikes targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist network in Yemen in three separate governorates since May 16, bringing the total number of air strikes to 34. These include air strikes May 25, two airstrikes June 23 and 30, two airstrikes July 22 and 24, and one Aug. 14. These air strikes took place in Shabwah, Hadramawt and Al-Bayda governorates.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the governorates of Al Bayda (البيضاء), Shabwah (شبوه), and Hadramout (حضرموت) without any specific spatial information. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates are: 15.301065, 47.856830.

  • Reports of the incident mention the governorates of Al Bayda (البيضاء), Shabwah (شبوه), and Hadramout (حضرموت) without any specific spatial information.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

TAMPA, Fla. –U.S. Central Command has conducted six counterterrorism air strikes targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist network in Yemen in three separate governorates since May 16, bringing the total number of air strikes to 34.



These include air strikes May 25, two airstrikes June 23 and 30, two airstrikes July 22 and 24, and one Aug. 14. These air strikes took place in Shabwah, Hadramawt and Al-Bayda governorates.

A recent United Nations report assessed AQAP leaders recognize Yemen as a hub for external operations.



“AQAP has taken advantage of the conflicts in Yemen, to plot, direct and encourage terror attacks abroad,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a USCENTCOM spokesman. “We will not relent on our pursuit of AQAP terrorists as they remain a significant threat to regional security and stability, and the safety of Americans at home and abroad.”

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (2) [ collapse]