US Forces in Yemen: Trump

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
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment
Strike Status
Strike Type

Incident Code

USYEMTr218

Incident date

January 25, 2020

Location

جو النسيم, Joe Al Naseem, Marib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.480000, 45.349444 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted a house in Joe Al Naseem, in the Wadi Obeida area of Marib governorate, at 11am on January 25th 2020, killing at least one alleged AQAP leadership figure. Some sources later indicated that AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi died in the strike, one of three alleged January US actions in which he was supposedly killed. There were no known reports of associated civilian harm.

Fatima Alasrar (@YemeniFatima) reported that, according to Marib residents, the strike had “successfully targeted” the alleged AQAP member in his home, causing “no collateral damage”. Al-Masdar Online alone specified the time and location of the strike, at 11am in Joe Al Naseem area, suggesting that one unidentified AQAP militant was killed. Yemeni tribal sources told the Associated Press that AQAP militants cordoned off the area in the aftermath of the strike.

Several sources suggested that AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi, also known as Abu-Huraira al-San’ani, was killed in the strike. Analyst Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) tweeted on January 30th that al-Raymi was killed in the January 25th strike. On February 1st, The Guardian and others reported, US President Trump retweeted Rita Katz’s thread, appearing to confirm the report. OSINT analyst @carvajalF tweeted on January 30th that they had seen obituaries for Qasim al-Raymi, dated January 25th 2020.

Throughout late January and early February 2020, numerous local-language and English-language sources reported that al-Raymi had been killed by a US strike at the end of January. However, these reports variously indicated that he was killed by one of two alleged strikes in Wadi Obeida, Marib, on January 25th or January 27th (USYEMTr219-C); or by a strike in Bayda on January 29th (USYEMTr221). The alleged January 27th strike also targeted a building housing a leadership figure. On February 2nd, Marib governor Sultan al-Arada told Asharq Al-Awsat that two strikes had taken place in Marib in the prior 10-day period, and that security authorities had been unable to identify those killed in either strike.

Due to the congruence of alleged strike circumstances, several reports of a strike in Marib could not be definitively tied to a particular incident. Multiple local news outlets, such as Akhbar Al-Aan, reported only that Al-Raymi was killed by a strike in Wadi Obeida, conceivably referring to either of the Marib strikes mentioned above.

One Twitter source, @goldensla, suggested on January 27th that “one of the most wanted ” AQAP members in Ataq, Shabwa governorate, had rented a house in Wadi Obeida a week previously. A second tweet from the same source, on January 29th, suggested that al-Raymi had reportedly been killed in Marib after being seen in Ataq, but did not specify the date of his death. The same source reported on February 2nd that Al-Raymi had died on a farm belonging to the head of the Islah group in Marib, Mabkhoot Obood Al-Sharif.

Similarly, the New York Times reported that two were killed by an undated strike in Wadi Obeida, while Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed suggested that “at least four” were killed by a strike in the same area. Local sources told Al-Arabiya that a US plane had targeted a house, rented by AQAP militants a week previously, on the Friday evening [January 24th]. That report therefore conceivably refers to the night of January 24th-25th. In any case, the sources further stated that “it was not yet clear whether Qasim al-Rimi was among those targeted”. The original Al-Arabiya report could not be found by Airwars.

Additionally, given that the first known reports of al-Raymi’s death emerged on January 29th, post-dating the three alleged strikes in which he was reported to have died, it was impossible to reasonably exclude the possibility that he died in any of these three reported events. Given the possibility that Qasim al-Raymi did die in this specific event, potentially in addition to the original one reported fatality, Airwars has assessed that between one and two alleged militants reportedly died in this event.

On February 6th, a White House statement confirmed that al-Raymi had been killed by a January strike, but did not specify where or when he had died.  “This was not a [Department of Defense] operation”, a US Pentagon official told Politico.  A former US official told Foreign Policy that the strike was conducted by a CIA aircraft.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during January 2020, effectively confirming that the strike that killed Al-Raymi was a CIA operation.

Al-Raymi had been the leader of AQAP since 2015, having been a founding member of the group in 2006. On February 23rd 2020, AQAP confirmed that al-Raymi had died, and announced Khalid Batarfi as its new leader, according to Dr Elisabeth Kendall.

The incident occured at 11:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (75) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (25) [ collapse]

  • Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of AQAP, was alleged to have been killed in the strike (@Rita_Katz, January 30th 2020)
  • Sources initially suggested that an unidentified AQAP leader had been killed in the strike, possibly referring to Al-Raymi (Al-Mashhad Al-Yemeni, February 2nd 2020)
  • The strike was one of three alleged US actions in January which reportedly killed Al-Raymi (@NATSEC09, January 31st 2020)
  • A single source, @goldensla, suggested that Al-Raymi was killed in a farm belonging to the head of the Islah group in Marib, though it was unclear whether this referred to this strike (@goldensla, February 2nd 2020)
  • The US State Department had previously offered $10 million for information leading to Al-Raymi's capture (New York Times, January 31st 2020)
  • Al-Raymi had been leader of AQAP since 2015, after his predecessor was killed by a US drone strike (@englishsssn, January 31st 2020)
  • On February 1st, an apparently pre-recorded message from Al-Raymi claimed responsibility for the December 2019 Pensacola naval base shooting (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 1st 2020)
  • In a tweet, academic Dr Elisabeth Kendall pointed out that a February 1st video of Al-Raymi omitted "the usual "May Allah protect him"... which would have shown he's alive" (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 2nd 2020)
  • On February 23rd, AQAP confirmed the death of Al-Raymi, announcing Khalid Batarfi as his successor (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 23rd 2020)
  • Khalid Batarfi, Al-Raymi's successor as AQAP leader (@Dr_E_Kendall, February 23rd 2020)
  • Al-Raymi was confirmed to have been killed by the White House on February 6th 2020 (BBC Monitoring, January 31st 2020)
  • In 2017, Al-Raymi said that lone shooter attacks brought him joy (Long War Journal, February 6th 2020)
  • Al-Raymi (right), alongside Pensacola shooter Muhammed bin Saeed Al-Shamrani (Long War Journal, February 6th 2020)
  • Al-Raymi, born in 1978, was a founding member of AQAP (BBC Arabic, February 7th 2020)
  • (@Saad_Binmuad, January 29th 2020)
  • (@NewsyemenS, February 1st 2020)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a residential building being struck in Joe Al Naseem (جو النسيم) village, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.480000, 45.349444. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qasim al-Rimi, a founder and the leader of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and a deputy to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Rimi joined al-Qa’ida in the 1990s, working in Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden. Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces. His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qa’ida movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security. The United States, our interests, and our allies are safer as a result of his death. We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (75) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr217

Incident date

January 20, 2020

Location

Special Forces School Mosque, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.477056, 45.317608 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (via Airwars)

Airwars assessment

US drone strikes targeted what was described as the government ‘Central Security’ headquarters in Marib governorate, killing “terrorist” individuals, on the evening of January 20th 2020, according to a number of local language social media sources.

Other sources also reported that a military base, the “third military zone”, was targeted, with some assigning responsibility for the attack to Houthi military forces. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

Sources reporting a US drone strike gave varying casualty figures. A few Twitter users, including @hamzah_almorady and @SamarQah, indicated that there were “dozens of dead”, while user @ganoubhura indicated that eleven “terrorist elements” had been killed in a raid on the “Special Forces camp”. As such, minimum alleged militant deaths is set at eleven, with a maximum of 24, accounting for the reports of “dozens of dead”.

Other sources, which did not assign responsibility to the US, gave additional details on the attack, and indicated that there were no fatalities.  A military source told Arabi21 that a drone had targeted the Marib military headquarters, where the Special Forces School is based, but was shot down. The source indicated that the strike resulted in “no casualties”.

Twitter users @IkoAfortiori and @RebeccaRambar also reported explosions and anti-aircraft fire in the third military zone. Some suggested that soldiers had sustained injuries in the raid. A military source told Al-Masdar Online that seven government soldiers from the 13th Infantry Brigade were injured. Given these reports, minimum alleged military deaths is set at zero, while the minimum number of alleged military injuries is set at seven.

Some indicated that the strike was instead conducted by Houthi forces. Yemen Army Captain Hisham Mgdashi (@Hishammagdashy) suggested that the strike was conducted by Houthi forces, targeting the mosque of the Special Forces School at 6:57pm. Others, including @aslakaniali, further reported that a Houthi drone had been shot down in Marib.

While most indicated that the attack was conducted by an aircraft of some kind, Sky News Arabic instead suggested that the explosion was the result of a ballistic missile strike.

The reported strike came days after an alleged Houthi missile attack targeted a military training camp in Marib governorate, reportedly killing over 100 Yemeni military personnel.

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

The incident occured at 6:57 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–24
  • Belligerents reported injured
    7

Sources (30) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • Multiple sources suggested that the Third Military Zone was targeted by at least one strike, but disagreed on the identify of the belligerent and casualty numbers (@IkoAfortiori, January 20th 2020)
  • Alleged video of damage to the Marib Third Military Zone Special Forces School.

Geolocation notes (4) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a strike on the mosque of the Special Forces School in the Third Military Zone, Ma’rib (مريب ) city. Combining audiovisual material and evidence of structural damage from satellite imagery, we have found the exact location of this strike, for which the coordinates are: 15.477056, 45.317608.

  • Reports of the incident mention a strike on the mosque of the Special Forces School in the Third Military Zone, Ma’rib (مريب ) city. Combining audiovisual material and evidence of structural damage from satellite imagery, we have found the exact location of this strike.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Side by side comparison of structural damage. Left is imagery from 24/07/2019, while right is dated as 07/02/2020.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Tagged satellite imagery.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Tagged audiovisual source.

    Imagery:
    @RebeccaRambar

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Houthi Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Airstrike and/or Artillery, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attackers
    United States Armed Forces, Houthi Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown
  • Belligerents reported killed
    0–24
  • Belligerents reported injured
    7

Sources (30) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr216

Incident date

January 2–3, 2020

Location

الجراف/حدة, Al Jarf/Hadda, Sana'a, Yemen

Geolocation

15.399569, 44.209156 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

District

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Qods Force commander in Sana’a, overnight from January 2nd-3rd 2020.

While initial reports suggested that Shahlai had been killed in the strike, official sources later indicated that he had survived. There was some indication that another Iranian soldier was killed, however. The strike reportedly took place alongside a second confirmed US drone strike in Iraq, which assassinated Iranian commander Qasem Suleimani early on January 3rd. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm in the strike.

The specific circumstances of the strike were unclear. Though reports initially emerged late on January 3rd, with some suggesting that the attack took place around that time, later reporting by outlets including the Washington Post, ABC, and CNN instead indicated that it took place on the same night as the strike that killed General Suleimani. This chimes with an Erem News report that local sources in Sana’a had denied that there were any airstrikes overnight from January 3rd-4th.

Local language outlets also reported that the strike took place some time overnight from January 2nd-3rd. According to Tahdeeth, the attack took place in the Al Jarf area of Sana’a on January 2nd. Yemen Time further indicated, according to local sources, that the strike took place at 4am “on the day of the killing of Qassem Soleimani”, January 3rd, in the Hadda area of Sana’a city, near the Faj Atan area. According to analyst Joshua Koontz (@JoshuaKoontz__), Hadda lies around 4.5 miles from Al Jarf.

Though initial reports, from Twitter users including @muard_doden and @raed_alamassi, suggested that the strike targeted a car, Yemen Times reported that the target was a house. US officials likewise told ABC News that the strike targeted Shahlai in his “compound”. While most indicated that the attack took the form of a drone strike, a few sources, such as @wesleysmorgan, suggested that the action was a US Special Forces operation.

Four US officials told the Washington Post that Shahlai had survived the attack. “If we had killed him, we’d be bragging about it that same night”, a senior US official told the Washington Post. The Intercept later reported that Shahlai went into hiding after the strike, according to a US counter-terrorism official.

It was further reported by The Intercept that a “lower-level Quds Force operative” was killed in the strike. Sources variously indicated that the killed operative was Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Mustafa Muhammad Mirzai. On January 6th 2020, Aden Gad reported that, according to Iranian media, Mirzai, was killed in vague “clashes” in Yemen. Iranian state media also reported that Mirzai had died on January 3rd in “one of the fields of the Resistance Front”, at the same time acknowledging a military fatality in Yemen for the first time, according to journalist Amir Toumaj.

Analyst Joshua Koontz also indicated that, according to the IRGC-linked Fars News Agency, Mirzai’s body was flown back to Iran for a funeral in Shahr-e-Ray, Tehran, on January 6th 2020. Quoting Fars, Joshua Koontz indicated that Mirzai was a “comms expert” who had also travelled to Iraq and Syria.

The alleged target of the strike, Abdul Reza Shahlai, supervised the Quds Force division aiding Houthi forces in the Yemeni civil war, The Intercept reported. In December 2019, the US State Department declared a $15 million reward for information on Shahlai. He has been linked to a January 2007 attack on the Karbala Joint Provincial Coordination Centre in Iraq, in which five US soldiers were kidnapped and later killed. In 2011, the US had listed him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, for allegedly planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. The US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, also said in 2019 that the US was “gravely concerned by his presence in Yemen and potential role in providing advanced weaponry of the kind we have interdicted to the Houthis”.

The Pentagon was coy about the attack. “We have seen the report of a January 2 airstrike in Yemen, which is long-understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States. The Department of Defense does not discuss alleged operations in the region.” said Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich in a statement to the press.

Subsequently, CENTCOM informed Airwars that it had conducted no strikes in Yemen during January 2020. Officials told the Washington Post, however, that “officials at the Pentagon and at military commands in Florida were monitoring both strikes”, suggesting that the US military had conducted the strike. The DoD also announced, at the time, that they had conducted the strike against Suleimani in Iraq. It is therefore likely that this action was an undeclared US military operation.

Several news outlets reported that the attempted killing of Shahlai undercut the rationale given by US officials for the parallel strike on Qasem Suleimani in Iraq. In the aftermath of the Suleimani strike, The Intercept reported, the US had submitted a letter to the United Nations Security Council, stating that the strike exercised its “inherent right to self-defence”. US officials and President Trump also justified the strike on the basis of an imminent threat posed by Suleimani.

The reported strike in Yemen, however, suggested “a mission with a longer planning horizon and a larger objective, and it really does call into question why there was an attempt to explain this publicly on the basis of an imminent threat”, Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post. A US official indicated to The Intercept that a strike against Shahlai had been discussed in the Trump administration for three years, “as a means of deterring further Iranian support for the Houthis in Yemen”.

Further, this strike against a Houthi ally was reported to be a significant deviation from prior US policy in Yemen, which had previously emphasised “counter-terrorism” efforts against AQAP and, more recently, ISIS. The attempted killing of Shahlai in Yemen – coupled with the assassination of Suleimani in Iraq at the same time – may point to a preplanned decapitation attempt by the US against the senior leadership of Iran’s military.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (56) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (8) [ collapse]

  • Iranian Qods Force commander Abdul Reza Shahlai was reportedly the target of the alleged strike, though reports indicated that he survived (@Levitt_Matt, January 6th 2020)
  • Iranian Qods Force "operative" Mohammed Mirzai was alleged to have been killed in the strike (@AmirToumaj, January 6th 2020)
  • Analyst Joshua Koontz mapped two alleged locations of the strike, Al-Jarf and Hadda (@JoshuaKoontz__, January 14th 2020)
  • The US administration officially denied the strike, as in this transcript of an interview of the Defence Secretary by a news host (@rgoodlaw, January 12th 2020)

Geolocation notes (2) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention separate locations within the Sana’a City (امانة العاصمه) district. According to one source, @JoshuaKoontz__, these are the Al Jarf (الجراف) area, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.399569, 44.209156, and the Hadda (حدة) area, south of Sana’a, at these generic coordinates: 15.303724, 44.190960. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention separate locations located within the Sana’a City (امانة العاصمه) district. According to one source, @JoshuaKoontz__, these are the Al Jarf (الجراف) area, and the Hadda (حدة) area, south of Sana’a

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • @JoshuaKoontz__ alleges that two seperate areas have been identified as locations of the strike, these are the Al Jarf (الجراف) area, and the Hadda (حدة) area, south of Sana’a.

    Imagery:
    @JoshuaKoontz__

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (56) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr215

Incident date

December 7, 2019

Location

Arqoub, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.468889, 45.763889 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

A few local-language Twitter sources suggested, on December 7th 2019, that US drone strikes had targeted “Muslim Brotherhood” militias, also described as “terrorists”, in the mountains of Al Arqoub in Abyan governorate. No other known sources reported US strikes, and there was no known information on alleged casualties.

The first known report of the strikes, from Twitter account @moam8888849 at 1:34 AM on December 7th, only reported that drones were bombing “unknown targets” in the mountains of Arqoub. A second account, @8k3b82LEv96mpzC, appeared to assign responsibility to the US for the strikes, which @salem_Alshaiba [perhaps recirculating the above] described as an “intense bombardment” by American forces.

On January 2nd 2020, US Central Command told New America that no US military strikes had been conducted in Yemen since June 24th 2019. The alleged strikes came amidst continued clashes between southern separatist forces and pro-government forces in southern Yemen, including in Abyan governorate.

The incident was first reported on December 7, 2019 at 1:34 am by @moam8888849.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Other, Unknown

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the vicinity of the Arqoub (زنجبار‎) area, for which the generic coordinates are:13.468889, 45.763889. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

On January 2, in response to an email inquiry, CENTCOM reiterated June 24th as the last CENTCOM strike in Yemen and said an investigation is ongoing into an alleged 11/1 strike reported by Xinhua

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Other, Unknown

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr214-C

Incident date

November 1, 2019

Location

ريدان بالقرب من جبل الكنائس, Raidan, in the vicinity of Jabal Al Kaneas, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.76963, 45.40988 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed at least two alleged AQAP militants, including a leadership figure, in Raidan village, in the Al Kanaes area of Marib governorate, on November 1st 2019. One source, @AlkaramaHR, instead appeared to suggest that those killed were civilians, unaffiliated with AQAP.

On January 2nd 2020, US Central Command told New America that no strikes had been conducted since 24th June 2019, but that an investigation was nevertheless ongoing into this alleged action. It is possible that this was instead a CIA action, or was a clandestine US military action.

The Alkarama Foundation (@AlkaramaHR), a human rights group, indicated in a tweet at the time that “two Yemenis” were killed by the strike, and condemned “extrajudicial killings”, possibly indicating that those killed were civilians.

All other known sources, however, reported that the dead were AQAP members. Local and tribal sources told Yemen Press Agency and Al-Masdar Online that Khamis bin Arfaj was killed along with his brother, Turki bin Arfaj, as they drove through the area.  These sources indicated that both were suspected AQAP.

One Twitter source, @ahmadsaeede326, shared a screen-capture of a Facebook post, which stated that Saleh Afraj was an “important leader of the National Army in Marib”, and had been killed by a US drone strike. The original Facebook source could not be found by Airwars. Given this, it is possible that one of those killed was a member of the Yemeni military.

Some local language Twitter sources, such as @ben_ataf, simply indicated that Khamis and his “companions” were killed in the strike, possibly indicating a militant death toll of at least three.  Though most reported that the strike targeted a car, @South24_net indicated that an AQAP “gathering” was bombed.

According to Al-Mashhad Al-Yemeni, Khamis bin Arfaj was a “prominent” leader in AQAP, and a close friend of Anwar Al-Awlaki prior to his death in a 2011 US drone strike. Local sources told the outlet that Khamis and Turki were both members of the Al-Marwan tribe, from Al-Jawf governorate.

In its annual civilian casualty report for Congress issued in April 2019, the US Department of Defense stated that, as of March 1st 2020, it had assessed “no credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from US military actions in Yemen during 2019”. The report also asserted that US Central Command had not received “any reports from IOs or NGOs regarding potential civilian casualties caused by U.S. military action in Yemen in 2019”.

The incident was first reported on November 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm by .

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (38) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    One source, @sheeq71, posted this image on November 1st 2019, which possibly shows one of those killed in the reported US drone strike (November 1st 2019).
  • A few sources indicated that the alleged militants may have been targeted amid the movement of pro-government forces in the area (sheeq71, November 1st 2019)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village or area of Raidan (ريدان), allegedly in the vicinity of Jabal Al Kanaes (جبل الكنائس), in the desert north of Ma’rib (مارب) city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Jabal Al Kaneas are: 15.76963, 45.40988.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

On January 2, in response to an email inquiry, CENTCOM reiterated June 24th as the last CENTCOM strike in Yemen and said an investigation is ongoing into an alleged 11/1 strike reported by Xinhua

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (38) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr213

Incident date

September 24, 2019

Location

الأحمر, جبل سقاه, Al Ahmar camps, Jabal Sakah, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.396188, 47.387619 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

Two local-language Twitter sources reported that US drone strikes targeted “terrorist groups” in “Al-Ahmar camps” in the Azan and Al Houta area, Shabwa governorate.  No other known sources alleged US strikes, and no information was available on casualties. There were no known reports of civilian harm.

Since the first known report of this event, from @SouthernHariri, came at 11:43 PM local time on September 24th, Airwars has assessed the alleged strike as having taken place late on that day.

@SouthernHariri and @S6s6h both reported US drone strikes in the area. Though the wording of the latter source differed from the former, similarities indicate that the tweet from @S6s6h may have been derivative of @SouthernHariri. As such, this event has been assessed as a “single-source” allegation.

US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during September 2019. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or was a clandestine US military action.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Al Ahmar (الأحمر ) camps, allegedly located within Jabal Sakah (جبل سقاه), in the vicinity of Al Houta (الحوطة) town, north west of Azzan (عزان). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Jabal Sakah are: 14.396188, 47.387619.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Al Ahmar (الأحمر ) camps, allegedly located within Jabal Sakah (جبل سقاه), in the vicinity of Al Houta (الحوطة) town, north west of Azzan (عزان).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

CENTCOM told Airwars that there were no US military strikes during the month of September in Yemen. The last declared CENTCOM action was on June 24th 2019 in Al Bayda province.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr212

Incident date

September 14, 2019

Location

شبوة, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.695997, 46.957239 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Province/governorate

Airwars assessment

One local language social media source, @GawadSalah, claimed, on September 15th 2019, that six Emiratis were killed in an alleged AQAP camp in Shabwa by a US drone strike.

The source seemed to refer to six Emirati soldiers reported, on September 14th 2019, to have been killed in a road “collision” in southern Yemen. Other reports suggested that the six were killed in an armed clash with separatists, or even that they died in Libya.  No other known sources assigned responsibility for the deaths to a US drone strike.

On October 4th 2019, a US Central Command spokesperson told New America that no strikes had been conducted in Yemen since June 24th 2019. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or was part of a clandestine US military action.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the governorate of Shabwa (شبوة), for which the generic coordinates are: 14.695997, 46.957239. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the governorate of Shabwa (شبوة).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed 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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Belligerents reported killed
    6

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr211

Incident date

September 2, 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

Three US drone strikes reportedly targeted a convoy of alleged AQAP militants travelling through Aqaba Al Qandha area of Shabwa governorate, on the morning of September 2nd 2019. No known sources gave information on casualties of the strikes, and there were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

“Private sources” told Shabwa Press that US drones had targeted the militants as they travelled to support pro-government military operations in Shabwa, destroying three cars. Shabwa Press noted that Aqaba al-Qandaa is a key route in the area, linking Beihan with Bayda governorate.

Three local language social media sources, including @alsalahi_fahad, later indicated that there were “charred bodies” in the cars. Identical phrasing in these sources, however, indicates that they reflected one original post. Given the report of multiple bodies, minimum reported deaths has been set at two.

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. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or was part of a clandestine US military action.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Aqaba Al Qandha (عقبة القنذع) area close to the borders 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.

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

United States Armed 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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (31) [ collapse]