US Forces in Yemen

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

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

Incident Code

USYEMTr101

Incident date

September 11, 2017

Location

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

Geolocation

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

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.

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.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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]

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
    No
  • 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, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

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

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.

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.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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]

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
    No
  • 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

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.

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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]

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
    No
  • 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

USYEMBi012

Incident date

June 22, 2023

Location

الكور, Al-Kour, Shabwa, Yemen

Airwars assessment

Three Al Qaeda members were killed by alleged US drone strikes on the Al-Kour area in Shabwa on June 22, 2023.

26sep News reported that American strikes on the Al-Kour area in Shabwa resulted in the death of three Al Qaeda members. There are no additional details about those who were killed available.

All of the sources attributed the casualties to US strikes, with many of the sources mentioning drones.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Alleged US drone strikes in Shabwa on June 22, 2023. (Image posted by @shomokh774)

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
    No
  • 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
    3

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM040-B

Incident date

October 5, 2011

Location

زنجبار‎, Al Arqoub, east of Zinjibar, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.194872, 45.446574 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between five and 10 militants, reportedly members of Al Qaeda, were killed and seven more were wounded in a US strike or strikes on Arqoub, east of Zinjibar on October 5, 2011, sources said. There are currently no known reports of civilian harm.

The strike reportedly targeted alleged militant hideouts in al Arqoub, east of Zinjibar, the embattled provincial capital of Abyan in southern Yemen. Officials told the Associated Press that the strike killed five militants and injured seven.

The Long War Journal stated that the exact target of the strikes was not disclosed, and no “senior Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders have been reported killed”.

According to the New York Times, “A strike by an American drone on Wednesday [Oct 5th] killed five militants connected with Al Qaeda in southern Yemen, officials said. A Yemeni official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comply with military rules, said the drone attacked militant hide-outs in an area east of the city of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan Province”.

The Yemen Observer said “the drone strike in Abyan killed five and injured seven”. The highest casualty count was provided by @abyanboard, which reported that 10 Yemeni militants were killed.

All of the sources reported that the United States was responsible for the drone strike.

The incident occured around dawn.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the area of Al Arqoub east of the town Zinjibar (زنجبار‎), in the Abyan (أبين‎) governorate. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available, Airwars wasn’t able to locate the Al Arqoub area. The generic coordinates for the area east of Zinjibar (زنجبار‎) are: 13.194872, 45.446574.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    7

Sources (4) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–10
  • Belligerents reported injured
    7

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM078-B

Incident date

May 12, 2012

Location

عين, Al Ain district, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.928287, 45.600437 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A possible third US drone strike on May 12th 2012 struck an alleged al Qaeda hideout in Al-Aeen area in central Shabwa, killing at least six militants, reports said. There are currently no known reports of civilian harm.

A local security official told Xinhua about the incident and claimed it was a U.S. drone strike. Xinhua was the only source that mentioned this incident as separate from the other incidents on the same day (USYEM076-B and USYEM077-B).

 

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the district of Ain (or Aeen) (عين) in the province of Shabwa (شبوة‎). Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the district Ain (عين) are: 14.928287, 45.600437.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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
    6

Sources (8) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Single source claim
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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
    6

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM129-B

Incident date

September 20, 2012

Location

المحفد, Mahfad, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

14.060537, 46.918367 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

The morning of September the 20th 2012, two air strikes or drone strikes, which are believed to be either American or Yemeni, killed up to four militants and injured three others in the eastern outskirts of the town of Mahfad in the southern province of Abyan.  Even though it cannot be ruled out, there are no reports of civilian harm.

Some confusion exists over the exact location of the strike. Most sources, such as Adenalghad and Xinhua, report that the strikes took place solely in Mahfad but some Twitter sources, such as @anaweny and @yementodaytvnet, report that the strikes were in both Mahfad and Mudiyah.

Xinhua news first quoted a local security official who reported that two militants had been killed and that three had been injured by a Yemeni air strike. According to the security official: “The air bombing is going to have a very significant impact on the activities of [Al Qaeda] militants […] Their movement in Abyan is going to be disrupted during the coming days.” Xinhua also reported that militant sources had confirmed the death of two Al Qaeda insurgents.

However, Adenalghad News later reported that Xinhua news had stated that another local official had said that the strike was instead executed by an American drone and that it had killed four Al Qaeda members and injured multiple others. This is supported by the fact that the Yemeni Air Force lacks the technical capability to conduct precision air strikes. Adenalghad News also reported that there are believed to have been leaders of Al Qaeda who were among the dead. According to both Alshawa Yemen and Adenalghad, militants regrouped in Mahfad in the weeks preceding the strike after fleeing from Azzan, Jaar and Zinjibar due to an offensive by the Yemeni army resulting in Mahfad becoming a target.

The incident occured in the morning.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the eastern outskirts of the town of Mahfad (المحفد) were targeted, in Abyan governorate. The coordinates for the eastern part of Mahfad (المحفد) are: 14.060537, 46.918367.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (11) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Yemeni Air Force Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Yemeni Air Force
  • Yemeni Air Force position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–4
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr118

Incident date

November 20, 2017

Location

يكلا‎, Yakla, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.598056, 45.060000 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In a statement, US Central Command said that airstrikes in Bayda governorate had killed five AQAP militants, including alleged Shabwa governorate leader Mujahid al-Adani, on November 20th 2017. This confirmed local reports that a US drone strike had killed at least three alleged AQAP militants in Yakla in the Wald Rabi area, overnight from November 20th-21st. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

According to CENTCOM statements, “al-Bayda-based facilitator Abu Layth al-Sanaani” was the second “high-value target” killed in the strike, in addition to al-Adani. AKA Mohammad Shukri, al-Adani was “a senior leader responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against Yemeni, Coalition and tribal security forces… and previously served as an AQAP military leader in Aden”.

On January 9th 2018, a further CENTCOM statement asserted that “Abu Umar al-Sana’ani, an AQAP Dawah committee member”, was killed on November 20th in al-Bayda governorate. Since no other strikes were reported on this day, it is likely that this report referred to this event. It was unclear, however, whether the report was a reference to Abu Layth al-Sanaani by another name, or another person killed.

Multiple sources, including @demolinari and Al-Arabi, further named one of those killed as Hudhaifa al-Awlaqi, additionally to al-Adani and Abu Layth al-Sanaani. Though most suggested that four had been killed, Al-Arabi, Russia Today Arabic, and some other sources, indicated that three militants had died.

One news source, Gulf News, suggested that, according to a local activist, six militants had died when a US drone launched at least two missiles at their car on this date. Several news sources, such as Al Sahwah and Aden al-Hadath, suggested that a Yemeni local official told AFP that the car was bombed on a mountain road. The original AFP report could not however be found.

Most sources also indicated that the strike targeted a car in the area, killing all inside, and variously reported that it took place either late on the 20th or early on the 21st November.

The incident occured during the night.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the village of Yakla (يكلا‎), within the Ould Rabi district (بمديرية ولد ربيع). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Yakla are: 14.598056, 45.060000.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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
    3–6

Sources (24) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Sources suggested that the strike killed at least three alleged AQAP militants. CENTCOM later indicated that five had been killed in the strike. (Aden al-Hadath, November 21st 2017)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. airstrikes killed five al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 20 in an effort to disrupt AQAP attack networks.

Mujahid al-Adani, an AQAP Shabwah leader, was killed in the strikes, along with al-Bayda-based facilitator Abu Layth al-Sanaani and three AQAP associates.

Al-Adani, also known as Mohammad Shukri, previously served as an AQAP military leader in Aden and remained responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against Yemeni and coalition forces. Al-Adani maintained a significant influence within AQAP as well as close ties to other AQAP senior leaders.

The Shabwah offensive has forced AQAP to consolidate within the northern and eastern portions of the Abyan and eastern Al-Bayda Governorates respectively.

The removal of key AQAP leaders and associates in this region will further degrade AQAP’s freedom of movement and operation, limiting their ability to challenge Yemeni security forces and coalition advances.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • 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
    3–6

Sources (24) [ collapse]