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

USYEM094-C

Incident date

May 28, 2012

Location

المناسح, Manaseh, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.5797620, 44.7502190 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were reported killed in an alleged US drone strike in the vicinity of the village of Manaseh, close to the town of Rada’a in al-Baydah province during the afternoon of the 28th May, 2012. Between one and five militants linked to Al Qaeda were also reported to have been killed in the strike and four others were wounded.

Reuters and Yemen Post quoted a text message from the Al Qaeda affiliated group ‘Ansar al-Sharia’ which said that “the bombardment resulted in the deaths of two bystanders (civilians) and one (militant) brother.” Press TV reported that the airstrikes resulted in the death of seven people, without specifying if they were militants or civilians.

Reuters quoted local sources which said that “a U.S. drone was behind the attack”, whilst additionally stating that a local official had confirmed the “target of the strike was a provincial militant commander and his brother, both of whom survived.” Flashpoint Intel reported that “jihadi sources” had acknowledged the death of three militants.

Boston.com reported details on the alleged drone strike, stating that it was conducted against Qaid al-Dahab, a local leader of al-Qaeda who was travelling in “a convoy of three cars near the town of Rada’a, 160 km south of the capital,Sanaa.” Boston.com also stated that four militants were wounded, with Xinhua reporting that “Qaid al-Dahab, his brother Nabil and two of their bodyguards were slightly wounded in the airstrike.” An article by Agence France-Presse (AFP), published in Alarabiya, quoted a local tribal leader who stated that “Dahab survived but five of his guards were killed.” Yemen Post stated that a second senior AQAP leader had also survived the strike, but claimed that only three other militants were killed.The Long War journal identified this second leader as Nabil al-Dahab, Qaid al-Dahab’s brother. The Long War Journal further specified that the drones which were used to conduct the attack on the brothers were “Predators or the more deadly Reapers”, although this is unsurprising, as these two types of military drone were the most widely operated by the U.S. military at the time.

It is noteworthy that UPI gave a significantly different account of the attack however, reporting that the strike was made against an Al Qaeda stronghold and that “a U.S. done attacked a house in Rada’a, a city in Baydha province south of the capital Sanaa, that Yemeni intelligence services identified as a target Monday.” UPI was the only media source which stated that the strike was carried out against a house, rather than vehicles.

With regard to the status of Qaid al-Dahab and his brother Nabil, Xinhua quoted a Yemeni government official who said that “Qayid and Nabil command a branch of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Rada’a after the Yemeni intelligence services last February killed their brother Sheikh Tariq al-Dhahab, who was the chief of the al-Qaeda group there.”

Furthermore, an article in the Washington Post quoted a U.S. counterterrorism official who said that “it is still an open question” as to whether Qaid and Nabil al-Dahab, both related in marriage to Anwar al-Awlaki, were plotting attacks against the United States.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a convoy was targeted in the area or near the village of Manaseh (المناسح), near the town of Rada’a (رداع), possibly traveling to Al Himmah. We were unable to find the location for Al Himmah. However, the coordinates for the town of Rada’a  (رداع) are: 14.415088, 44.840937; and the coordinates for the village of Manaseh (المناسح) are: 14.5797620, 44.7502190.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    4

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Qaid al-Dahab, one of the targets of the alleged US drone strike on Manaseh, May 28th 2012, (via Long War Journal)

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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    4

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr094

Incident date

July 31, 2017

Location

الخثلة, Al Khathla, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.175453, 45.182058 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed five alleged AQAP militants, including foreign fighters, in Al Khathla village in the Juba area of Marib governorate, early on July 31st 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

According to AFP, a Yemeni security official said that five alleged militants were killed in a drone strike “likely to have been carried out by the United States”. The official said that “foreigners” were among those killed in the strike, which targeted a gathering of people “known to belong to Al-Qaeda”, though no further information was available on specific nationalities.

Some sources suggested that the strike took place on a house in the village, though others, including Aden al-Ghad, suggested the five were instead killed while travelling in a car. Yemen Press reported that, according to local sources, three drone strikes targeted the vehicle. Al Hakea noted that the village had previously been targeted i na US raid on May 23rd.

One local language Twitter source, @ali_alabd_, asserted that a “reformist leader”, named as “Blasney”, was killed in the strike along with four other militants, though no other sources corroborated this.

According to one source, SMA News, “a number of other” militants were wounded in the strike, which it reported took place as militants met in a house. As such, Airwars has assessed that a minimum of two militants were reportedly injured in the strike.

In an email to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US Central Command said there had been no US strikes in Marib province at that time. This did not preclude the possibility of a CIA action, however.

The incident occured in the morning.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention either a vehicle or a residential building being struck in the village of Al Khathla (الخثلة). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Khathla are: 15.175453, 45.182058.

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
    5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (43) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ 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
    5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (43) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM041-C

Incident date

October 14, 2011

Location

عزان, Azzan, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.326170, 47.445905 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A series of up to six confirmed US drone and/or airstrikes across Azzan killed up to 24 people, including two children, on October 14, 2011. The others killed were reportedly Al Qaeda militants.

In the first of several attacks on this day, a drone attack struck a house in the Azan district of Shabwa, targeting the Egyptian-born AQAP Yemen media chief Ibrahim al-Bana, but the occupants of the house had left two minutes earlier, according to local tribal elders. There were no casualties reported from this incident.

A second drone attack then struck either a vehicle or a restaurant area. PBS Frontline later filmed at the scene of the attack, the footage showing the ruined foundations of a small building along with a nearby crater. Abdel-Rahman Anwar al Awlaki, the 16-year old son of al Awlaki, had been killed in the strike.

A statement from Abdel-Rahman’s family read, “he left with some friends for dinner under the moonlight when an American missile landed, killing Abdel-Rahman and his friends”. In a separate statement, the family said:  “On October 14th, 2011 Abdulrahman, along with some of his tribe’s youth have gone barbecuing under the moonlight. A drone missile hit their congregation killing Abdulrahman and several other teenagers.” A second teenager and family member, Ahmed Abdel Rahman al Awlaki, 17, is known to have been killed in the strike. Five to seven others were also killed, including Sarhan al Qusa (aka Farhan al Quso) brother of AQAP leader Fahd al-Qusa or Quso, according to a member of Awlaki’s tribe. Reuters later claimed that the dead men were planning to renounce Al Qaeda before they were killed. Elders claimed that four other Awlaki tribal members died in the strike.

Also initially reported killed was militant Ibrahim al Bana. However, two weeks after the strike, AQAP released leaflets stating that he had not been killed. Ansar al Sharia also reported in its second October newsletter that al Bana’s death was “a lie”. He was confirmed to be alive by the US State Department on January 5 2016 when it announced that al Bana had been designated “a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order (E.O) 13224” and a reward of $5 million was offered for information leading to his killing or captured.

The New York Times detailed that the airstrikes were allegedly conducted by American drones and were responsible for the deaths of at nine individuals, including Al-Banna as well as the seventeen-year-old son of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni cleric who was killed roughly a month before the airstrike that killed his son. The elder Awlaki was an American citizen and his death raised significant legal questions about the use of American drones to kill American citizens without a trial. CNN did not confirm if Awlaki’s son, named Abdul Rahman Anwar Awlaki, was among those killed in the strike, but on October 15th, Haaretz.com confirmed that Al-Awlaki’s son had indeed been killed. This story was corroborated by Taiwan News, but the younger Awlaki’s age was listed as twenty-one. There were varying numbers of those killed in the strike, with Pressit.com listing seven dead but Haaretz stating that nine were killed. While the number of dead was in contention, there was universal acceptance that the strike, which also struck a mosque injuring many, were American-made drones.

Longwarjournal.org published a disturbing story that claimed that Al-Awlaki’s son hoped to become a martyr like his father, making such a statement just hours before his death. The boy, also listed as young as sixteen years old in the LA Times, was killed with at least six other individuals in an airstrike conducted by American drones in Yemen. According to a Reuters articles published on October 18th, the death toll of the strike had reached twenty-four people. Time magazine published a piece in late October criticizing the Obama administration’s tactics in Yemen, questioning whether the death of young Al-Awlaki was merely “paying for the sins of his father?” When questioned about the drone strike that killed a reported teenager, one senior advisor to President Obama stated, “he should have had a more responsible father.”

The Washington Post reported that it was JSOC rather than the CIA which carried out the attack: “When pressed on why the CIA had not pulled the trigger, US officials said it was because the main target…an Egyptian named Ibrahim al-Banna, was not on the agency’s kill list. The Awaki teenager, a US citizen with no history of involvement with al Qaeda, was an unintended casualty. In interviews, senior US officials acknowledged that the two kill lists don’t match, but offered conflicting explanations as to why.”

In April 2012 the Toronto Star featured an interview with Nasser al-Awalaki, grandfather of Abdel-Rahman and former Yemen government minister. In it he said that former Yemen President Saleh had sent him a message insisting that he had had no role in his grandson’s death: “Tell Dr. Nasser I swear to God that I have nothing to do with the killing of his son.” Nasser al-Awlaki also said he would be taking legal action: “I am only a university professor and I’m not the kind of guy who would enlist tribal people. My only chance now is to go to court and I hope as far as Abdulrahman at least, they will be fair to us. They cannot claim he’s collateral damage.”

In April 2013 Jeremy Scahill added further controversy to the attack, reporting: “A former senior official in the Obama administration told me that after Abdulrahman’s killing, the president was “surprised and upset and wanted an explanation.” The former official, who worked on the targeted killing program, said that according to intelligence and Special Operations officials, the target of the strike was al-Banna, the AQAP propagandist. “We had no idea the kid was there. We were told al-Banna was alone,” the former official told me. Once it became clear that the teenager had been killed, he added, military and intelligence officials asserted, “It was a mistake, a bad mistake.” However, John Brennan, at the time President Obama’s senior adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security, “suspected that the kid had been killed intentionally and ordered a review. I don’t know what happened with the review.”‘

And in May 2013 US Attorney-General Eric Holder told US lawmakers Abdulrahman was “not specifically targeted by the United States”. In a letter, Holder explained Anwar al Awlaki was a legitimate target and that “[US] citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted”. He said three other US citizens, including Abdulrahman, had been killed by US drones during Obama’s presidency.

The incident occured in the evening.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Ahmed Abdel Rahman al Awlaki
17 years old male killed
Abdulrahman al-Awlaki
16 years old male killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the city of Azzan (عزان), for which the generic coordinates are: 14.326170, 47.445905. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 children)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–22

Sources (60) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (left), killed in strikes carried out by the US on October 14, 2011, killed just a few weeks after his father, Anwar al-Awlaki (right) was killed. (Image posted by Independent)
  • Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, killed in strikes carried out by the US on October 14, 2011, killed just a few weeks after his father, Anwar al-Awlaki was killed. (Image posted by Esquire)
  • Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, killed in strikes carried out by the US on October 14, 2011, killed just a few weeks after his father, Anwar al-Awlaki was killed. (Image posted by The Intercept)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

The Washington Post reported that it was JSOC rather than the CIA which carried out the attack: "When pressed on why the CIA had not pulled the trigger, US officials said it was because the main target…an Egyptian named Ibrahim al-Banna, was not on the agency’s kill list.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 children)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5–22

Sources (60) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM042-C

Incident date

October 14, 2011

Location

حريب, Harib district, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

14.901509, 45.379398 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Saleh Qaid Toayman and his 14-year-old son Jalal were reportedly killed in an alleged overnight US airstrike in Azzan on October 14, 2011, according to local reports.

Saleh and Jalal were grazing camels “in an area known to be controlled by Al Qaeda,’” and had then slept by a mosque, according to Toayman’s 15-year-old son Azzedine, who survived the strike. One strike hit their car and was quickly followed by a second attack, Azzedine told NPR: “I heard a huge explosion. But I stayed where I was, hidden under a tyre. I did not move until the morning. Then, when I woke up, I was scared. I went to see my father and my brother. They were scattered into pieces.”

Saleh Toayman had fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s but the family claimed that he had recently renounced ties with the group, adding that he had been employed by Yemeni intelligence for a time. “If they wanted to arrest him – or even kill him – they knew where he lived,” one relative stated. “Why did they have to kill him like this?” Toayman’s eldest son was reported to have joined Ansar al Sharia following the strike.

According to The Guardian, “Saleh, and his 17-year-old son Jalal were killed in a drone strike after they drove into the desert to find some missing camels. Another brother who was with them – Ezzaldeen, 14 – escaped the blast and hid until morning, when he found the two shattered bodies.” The Guardian added that Saleh Toayman left behind three wives and 27 children. One of Saleh’s children, Meqdad, told The Guardian: “After our father died, Al Qaeda came to us to offer support. But we are not with them.”

US Central Command and the CIA declined comment on the Toaymans’ case. A Pentagon spokesman said that Yemen had not yet been designated a formal battlefield. “Day-to-day US operations in Yemen are authorized by the commander, US Central Command, based on authorities granted by the president and secretary of defense,” said Christopher Sherwood, the spokesman.

The incident occured during the night.

The victims were named as:

16 years old male Son of Saleh Qayed Taeiman killed
65 years old male killed

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Hareeb/Harib (حريب) district in the governorate of Ma’rib (مَأْرِب) in Yemen. The generic coordinates for the Harib (حريب) district are: 14.901509, 45.379398. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available, Airwars was unable to verify the location further.

  • Harib (حريب) district in Ma’rib governorate.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 child1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Azzedine Saleh Qaid, 15, witnessed the killing of his father and brother in an airstrike last Oct. 14. Azzedine says he now wants revenge against America for the deaths. Kelly McEvers/NPR
  • Some of the 26 children of Saleh Qaid Toayman, who was killed with one of his sons in an airstrike on Oct. 14, 2011. The family says the eldest son, Azzedine, has joined an al-Qaida-affiliated group to avenge the father's death. The group's black banner hangs in the family's home. The family says the militant group gives them a monthly stipend. Kelly McEvers/NPR

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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 child1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr163-C

Incident date

April 22–23, 2018

Location

مفقه ,الحزم, Mafqa, Al Hazma, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.79049, 45.71084 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Two young men, who pro-AQAP feeds indicated may have been civilians, were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Al Hazm, in the Beihan area on the borders of Shabwa and Bayda governorates, overnight from April 22nd-23rd 2018. It was later suggested that they were instead killed by a Houthi landmine.

Local language news outlet @HdrmutAlhadath named the dead as Ammar Yasser Al-Duwail aged 22, and Abdullah Mohammed Farid, aged 30.  A local security official told Al-Masdar Online that the two “suspected” AQAP members were killed by a US drone, which targeted them as they travelled through the area on a motorcycle.

According to Dr Elisabeth Kendall, however, pro-AQAP feeds instead described them as “citizens”, not “brothers”, and suggested that they were workers at a livestock market. Some other sources were ambivalent about the status of the dead; @HdrmutAlhadath identified those killed as “youths”.

“The plane was flying at low altitude in the skies of Beihan city before it hit the two men, allegedly belonging to al-Qaeda, in one of the sandy roads in Mafqa area in west of the city”, eyewitnesses told YP Agency.

While only one source (@Dr_E_Kendall) explicitly indicated that the dead were potentially civilians, the ambivalence of other sources has led Airwars to assess the claim of civilian harm as “fair”.

A Reprieve caseworker, Baraa Shiban, later tweeted that the two were not killed by a US drone, but by a Houthi landmine planted earlier in 2018. However, a later US Central Command press release stated that an airstrike in Bayda governorate on April 23rd had targeted “an AQAP checkpoint for asserting regional control and raising illegal revenue”, which the Long War Journal was told was in Bayda. Since there were no other known reports of a US strike in either Shabwa or Bayda on April 23rd, and given that reports indicated that a strike took place in the border region, this event is treated as declared.

In its annual civilian casualty report to Congress issued in April 2019, the US Department of Defense stated that it had assessed “no credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from US military actions in Yemen during 2018″.

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

The incident occured during the night.

The victims were named as:

22 years old male killed
30 years old male killed

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Mafqa (مفقه) area, west of the village of Al Hazm (الحزم), for which the generic coordinates are: 14.79049, 45.71084. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Mafqa (مفقه) area, west of the village of Al Hazm (الحزم).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Planted explosives and unexploded ordnance (UXO)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • A US drone strike reportedly killed two men in Beihan area, Shabwa/Bayda border area, overnight from April 22nd-23rd (@Dr_E_Kendall, April 23rd 2018)

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • Apr 29, 2019
  • C. U.S. military action in Yemen against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS During 2018, U.S. forces deployed to Yemen continued to work towards disrupting and degrading the terrorist threat posed by AQAP and ISIS. U.S. forces conducted 36 airstrikes against AQAP and ISIS operatives and facilities in Yemen and supported United Arab Emirates and Yemen-led efforts to clear AQAP from Shabwah Governorate. DoD has no credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from U.S. military actions in Yemen during 2018.

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

TAMPA, Fla. – In the past three months, U.S. forces have targeted and disrupted the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist network in Yemen through 17 counter-terrorism airstrikes in four separate governorates. These include six air strikes against AQAP terrorists in February, seven air strikes against AQAP terrorists in March and four airstrikes against AQAP terrorists in April.

The April airstrikes included an AQAP training camp in western Hadramawt governorate April 11 and an AQAP checkpoint for asserting regional control and raising illegal revenue in al Bayda governorate April 23.

Other air strikes took place in al Bayda, Hadramawt, Zamakh and Shabwah governorates.

U.S. Central Command is aware of reports of alleged civilian casualties following the March 29 air strike against AQAP in al Bayda governorate. A credibility assessment is being conducted.

Intelligence and defense communities have assessed AQAP as one of the terrorist groups most committed to and capable of conducting attacks in the United States. AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against the United States, its citizens and its allies around the world.

In early 2018, senior AQAP figure Khalid Batarfi called on the group’s supporters to “rise and attack” Americans “everywhere.” Last month, Osama Bin Laden’s son Hamza, an influential al-Qaeda figure, called on aspiring terrorists to join and support AQAP’s terrorist efforts in Yemen.

The United States is committed to finding and striking AQAP’s terrorist network in Yemen.

“In coordination with the government of Yemen, U.S. forces are conducting a series of counter-terrorism operations against AQAP and ISIS-Yemen,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a U.S. Central Command spokesman. “We will continue to disrupt and degrade the ability of AQAP to plan attacks, confronting threats before they reach our borders.”

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Planted explosives and unexploded ordnance (UXO)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM122-C

Incident date

August 29, 2012

Location

خشامر, Khashamir, Hadramaut, Yemen

Geolocation

15.9077780, 48.5855560 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

As many as nine people were reportedly killed by alleged US drone or airstrikes as they travelled through the village of Khashamir on August 29, 2023. Up to four missiles were fired at the village causing extensive damage to homes and terrifying the local residents sufficiently for some to be rushed to hospital with shock. Between two and four civilians were killed in the strike and testimony from their relatives formed part of a submission to an April 2013 Senate subcommittee hearing on the constitutional and counterterrorism implications of targeted killings.

Five people were reported killed, according to initial reports, and the defense ministry said three militants were killed in the strike. Witnesses said a US drone fired on a car with at least one hitting the target, and a local source identified the vehicle as a Suzuki Vitara that was “heading on a secondary road linking the Akkad area with the village of Khashamir.” Local residents pulled “charred bodies” from the wreckage that were “badly mangled by the airstrike“. There was “a huge explosion” that rocked the area, one local resident said, adding that military aircraft remained hovering “over several Al Qaeda-held sites in Hadramout’s suburbs.”

It was initially understood that the car was targeted in a residential area and a policeman, Walid Abdullah bin Ali Jaber, and a “mosque imam“, Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, were killed by the blast in their house. However subsequent investigations revealed a different story. Blogger Nasser Arrabyee claimed that militants had been visiting the Salafist cleric to threaten him when the strike took place. He wrote:

“He was always speaking against Al Qaeda. In his recent sermons he said Al Qaeda is against Islam… Al Qaeda sent on Wednesday four operatives to the cleric Jaber to blame him and while the five people were in the meeting a US drone came and killed them all.”

Reuters quoted the Union of Clerics and Preachers of Yemen’s Southern Provinces, who said in a statement that “Among the four killed in an attack launched by a U.S. aircraft in the al-Qatn district of Hadramout on Wednesday was one of our members, Salem bin Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, who had no link to Al Qaeda.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) described Salem as a father of seven, the imam of al-Mutadharirin mosque in Mukalla and added that he taught at a government school and was studying for a doctorate at Hadramawt University. The same HRW report described Walid as the father of a two year old son and Khashamir’s traffic policeman, and his mother Hayat bin Ali Jaber said that “Every day he would go to work in his uniform, so proud of his work.”

Six months after the strike the New York Times uncovered more details. The Imam commanded great respect in the community. Two days before his death the father of seven had reportedly stood up in his village mosque, denouncing Al Qaeda in a speech. On August 29 three Al Qaeda members came to Khashamir after 9pm. The Imam met the militants, taking his cousin Walid Abdullah bin Ali Jaber, a policeman, with him for security. The five men were reportedly stood arguing by some palm trees when “a volley” of missiles killed them all.

RW provided similar details that a black Suzuki Vitara sports utility vehicle with three men inside came to Salim’s house multiple times on the day of August 29, with Salim finally meeting with them in the evening when the drone strikes hit. Faisal Jaber, the brother-in-law of Salim Jaber and the uncle of Walid Jaber told HRW that “The first two missiles hit the circle of men directly. When the men heard it they all ran toward the spot where it landed. Then the second missile struck and shrapnel flew over their heads. The third missile came from an angle and took off the roof of the car and hit them again. The fourth missile took a bit of time. Maybe they were checking to see if they were still alive. They [villagers] saw a man crawling and the fourth missile hit that man and his body was thrown 20 meters or more, onto the wall of a sheep’s manger near the mosque. His body was intact. Only the back of his head was gone.” HRW added that images provided by Faisal show the remains of an ordnance, which they identified as a Hellfire missile.

Dammon.net provided names of the Al Qaeda members killed as “one of them from the Bin Ali Jaber family and the other from the Batarfi family” while the third person’s identity was unknown.

According to evidence submitted by human rights groups to a Senate subcommittee hearing, the missiles landed within 15 metres of occupied houses and pedestrian paths. At least two passers-by, unnamed civilians, were killed by flying shrapnel. The submission said Salem Ahmed, 50, was a preacher at the local mosque, a teacher, and studying for a doctorate at the University of Hadramout. His father, Ahmad bin Salim Salih bin Ali Jabir, 77, investigated the strike and found people gathered at the site “wrapping up body parts of people from the ground, from here and there, putting them in grave clothes like lamb”. Salem Ahmed’s mother had fainted when the strike hit and she died a few weeks later. Walid Abdullah, 26, was a traffic policeman with a two and a half year old son. His brother said the boy was initially called Saud, but the family renamed him after his father. Whenever the child hears the sound of an airplane “he screams and yells, ‘The plane, the plane, the plane, my father, my father, I want my father’”.

HRW stated that Faisal Jaber received a call from the Yemeni government just after the attack: “An officer from the Counter-Terrorism Unit called me the night of the attack and said, “I am sorry. It was not Salim and Walid who were being targeted.” He said, “I can’t do anything for you but you can call [President] Hadi at the presidential palace landline….Faisal Jaber heard nothing more until June, after Human Rights Watch and other international nongovernmental organizations raised the issue of compensation with US government officials. At that time, the Yemeni government ordered condolence payments of 2.5 million rials ($11,600) each to Salim Jaber’s and Walid Jaber’s families, Faisal Jaber said. At the time of writing, the payments had yet to arrive.”

Aljazeera reported that in July 2014, Faisal bin Ali Jaber received “roughly $100,000 in cash” Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) – the Yemeni equivalent of the CIA – months after he traveled to the US to speak with Congress, adding that it was unclear if the compensation came from the US government.

On May 27 2015, three relatives of Walid and Salim began legal proceedings against the German government in a court in Cologne. The case focused on the role of the air base in Ramstein, southern Germany, which was a key hub in the US drone war in Asia and the Middle East. It transferred the drone data link from satellites into a fibre optic network spanning the world, feeding various locations including the drone pilots’ control centres in the US. Faisal bin Ali Jaber, Ahmed Saeed bin Ali Jaber and Khaled Mohmed Naser bin Ali Jaber “called upon the German government to accept legal and political responsibility for the US drone war in Yemen and to prohibit the use of Ramstein,” according to their lawyers. The first attempt was defeated but in March 2019 “the Higher Administrative Court obliged the Federal Republic of Germany to establish by means of suitable measures whether the use of Ramstein Air Base by the United States of America for operations with armed drones at the residential address of the plaintiffs in Yemen complies with international law.”

The families of the two civilians killed also filed wrongful death lawsuits in the US in June 2015, as reported by The Guardian. In October 2015, Faisal bin Ali Jaber had offered to drop a federal lawsuit he filed, in exchange for “an apology and an explanation as to why a strike that killed two innocent civilians was authorized” but the Justice Department rejected the offer and in January 2016 a federal judge struck down his lawsuit and a appellate court upheld this decision in June 2017.

The incident occured during the night.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Walid Abdullah bin Ali Jaber
26 years old male killed
Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber
50 years old male killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a car was targeted overnight in near the village of Khashamir (خشامر) in the Qatn (قطن) district of Hadhramout governorate. The coordinates for the village of Khashamir (خشامر) are: 15.9077780, 48.5855560. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (2 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (92) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (18) [ collapse]

  • Walid bin Ali Jaber, a local policeman (Letta Tayler/Human Rights Watch).
  • Salim Ahmad Jaber of Khashamir, Hadhramaut. Mosque caretaker & imam. Killed by alleged US drone strikes August 28, 2012. (Image posted by @BaFana3)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Dammonnet)
  • Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni who lost relatives in a drone strike, visited Washington. Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
  • Faisal bin Ali Jaber, center, with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, left, and Baraa Shiban, who investigates drone strikes.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
  • Damage caused by alleged US drone strikes on August 28, 2012. (Image posted by Aljazeera)

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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (2 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–5

Sources (92) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM086-C

Incident date

May 17, 2012

Location

شقرة, Shaqra, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.356639, 45.699426 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

On May 17th 2012, at an Al Qaeda checkpoint in the town of Shaqra in the Abyan Province, a suspected US drone-fired missile or Yemeni air strike hit two cars killing between three and eight alleged Al Qaeda militants and up to two civilians, in addition to wounding others, according to local officials and residents, however the US has not confirmed the strike.

There have been conflicting accounts of the incident in reporting including the deathtoll, their civilian or belligerent status and whether the strike was conducted at a checkpoint or a vehicle traveling through the town. Reuters reported that three militants and two civilians were killed in a Yemeni airstrike, according to local residents and officials. However, AP claimed that six militants were killed when a strike hit a vehicle in the town. AFP, in contrast, reported that six militants were killed in a strike on a checkpoint in Shaqra which News 24 confirmed. CBS News corroborated the figure but provided no details on where or how the strike in Shaqra occured. Security officials told CNN that eight militants traveling in a convoy were killed in a drone strike, which was followed by a series of airstrikes by the Yemeni Air Force. A Facebook post from Yemen News Network from Aden mentions “wounded” from the airstrike but does not specify how many.

It remains unclear who was behind the incident, with residents and local officials reporting both airstrikes and artillery shelling and blaming both US military and Yemeni military forces.

The incident occured in the afternoon.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Shaqra (شقرة) in the Abyan (أبين‎) governorate. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the town of Shaqra (شقرة) are: 13.356639, 45.699426.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • 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.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (8) [ 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, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 2
  • Civilians reported injured
    0–2
  • 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.
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8
  • Belligerents reported injured
    0–2

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr129-C

Incident date

January 1, 2018

Location

ذي كالب , Dhi Kalib, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.555183, 44.882332 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were allegedly killed by a US drone strike in Dhi Kalb, in the Qayfa area of Bayda governorate, on the afternoon of January 1st 2018, according to multiple sources.

In an email to the Long War Journal, a US Central Command spokesperson confirmed that a strike took place “against AQAP” in Bayda on that day. Since there were no known local reports of other US strikes on January 1st; this event is therefore treated as declared.

Sources, including Yemen Shabab, named those killed as relatives Mohammed Mansar Abu Sarima and Mohammed Naji Ahmad Abu Sarima. Most suggested that the former was a 70-year old and the latter a 40-year old, though one local language Twitter source (@m_alsallaly) gave ages of 50 and 25 respectively.

Two sources, @almasdaronline and @MrsdYem, suggested that those killed were “militants of the Popular Resistance”, indicating that they were among those who militarily opposed Houthi forces in the area.

The pair were reportedly targeted as they sat together in a farm in Dhi Kalb. Tribal sources told Yemen Shabab that they were killed while in a tribal meeting with “the people of Al-Wasat”, which had been called to consider a disputed plot of land in the Dhi Kalb area. A relative of those killed, Mohammed Abu Sarimah, similarly told Associated Press that they had just returned from “mediating a local dispute”.

Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars. Witnesses told an investigator that the two men, an elderly man and a man in his early thirties, were unaffiliated with AQAP. Both were reportedly the first to arrive at a tribal meeting on farmland approximately 300 metres from their house; as they arrived, at around 2:30 PM, they were killed by the drone strike.

According to the AP report, tribal mediations “involve large gatherings of tribesmen who are often armed, potentially raising drone operators’ suspicions”. Mohammed Abu Sarimah told AP that “We don’t have any affiliation. They are simple farmers who don’t know how to read or write… We live in fear. Drones don’t leave the sky.”.

In its annual civilian casualty report to Congress issued in April 2019, the US Department of Defense stated that it had assessed “no credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from US military actions in Yemen during 2018″.

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

The incident occured at approximately 2:30 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

70 years old male killed
40 years old male killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Dhi Kalib (ذي كالب ) for which the generic coordinates are: 14.555183, 44.882332. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

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
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • The Sarima family provided AP with this image, showing a photo of Mohammed Abu Sarima, reportedly killed in the strike (AP, November 14th 2018)

US Forces Assessment:

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

Civilian casualty statements

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Jun. 2018: No strikes to date.

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

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

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

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

Note: This article was updated to include the dates and locations of Jan. 2018 strikes.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (2 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Sources (10) [ collapse]