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

USYEM108-C

Incident date

June 20, 2012

Location

المحفد, Mahfed district, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.989198, 46.680717 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

On the 20th of June 2012, an airstrike allegedly by US or Yemeni forces in northern Abyan killed Hussein Saleh (35), a worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), multiple sources, such as Reuters, reported. Al-Sahwa Net also reported that seven militants were killed and 10 others were wounded in the same incident.

According to Adengad Saleh was the Vice President of the ICRC in Aden and was expecting his fifth child with his wife. A news release by the ICRC, stated that Hussein Saleh was “assessing the humanitarian situation in the region” with three other workers from the ICRC when he was struck. A spokeswoman from the ICRC reported that Saleh’s colleagues were not injured in the strike. A local official told Reuters that it was the Yemeni Air Force which carried out the attack but at least two Twitter sources, @ps_press and @Emilioftorsello, reported that it was a US strike which killed Saleh. Another ICRC member told the BBC that it was not clear whether the attack was the work of a US drone or the Yemeni Air Force.

Much confusion exists concerning the details of the strike. Whereas most reports suggest that the strike took place on Wednesday the 20th of June, BBC reported that the strike took place on Tuesday morning whilst a report from Adengad suggests that Saleh was killed on Thursday afternoon. Little is also known about the exact location of the air strike. Adengad claimed that Saleh was hit whilst travelling between Ataq (the provincial capital) and Aden. An ICRC spokeswoman told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism by email that Saleh “was outside an ICRC vehicle when shrapnel hit him. He died from the shrapnel injuries. The strike did not hit the ICRC vehicle directly.” Furthermore, Adengad reports that Saleh was transported to Ataq Central Hospital after the strike, but that his life could not be saved.

According to Al-Sahwa Net, airstrikes on a gathering of Al Qaeda militants the afternoon of June 20th resulted in the death of eight people and the wounding of 10 others, and that one of the dead was the civilian Hussein Saleh who “was injured while passing near the place where the militants were targeted.”

The ICRC have been sparse in the details that they have given with spokesperson Hicham Hassan reporting that “It was an air strike. We have no additional details whatsoever”. The head of the ICRC in Yemen, Eric Marclay, added however that “We are devastated by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague Hussein,” and that “He was a very motivated and devoted staff member. He played a tremendously crucial role within his team helping hundreds of thousands of people in the south, and lost his life while performing humanitarian work.” The exact details of what humanitarian work Saleh was conducting at the time remains a little unclear. However, Reuters and Al Jazeera report that Saleh was attempting to get in contact with Al Qaeda militants so that he could negotiate the release of one of his co-workers who was kidnapped by the organisation in April. It was reported by Adengad that the strike that killed Saleh took place only hours after a similar strike conducted by the Yemeni Air Force killed up to 30 Al Qaeda militants in a hideout in Mahfed which is also in Northern Abyan (USYEM109-B).

The incident occured in the morning.

The victims were named as:

Hussein Saleh
35 years old male killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the northern part of the Abyan (أبين‎) province. In the same reports the district of Mahfed (المحفد) is mentioned, although not directly related to the death of Hussein Saleh. However, the Mahfed (المحفد) district is in the north of Abyan (أبين‎) province and it is most likely the location of the strike. The generic coordinates for the Mahfed district are: 13.989198, 46.680717. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man1 healthcare_personnel1 other protected person)
  • 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
    7
  • Belligerents reported injured
    10

Sources (19) [ 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
    1
  • (1 man1 healthcare_personnel1 other protected person)
  • 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
    7
  • Belligerents reported injured
    10

Sources (19) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM062-C

Incident date

April 18, 2012

Location

لودر, Lawdar, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.88149, 45.868922 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

One civilian was killed, and two injured, in an alleged US or Yemeni strike on Loder, April 18th, that also purportedly killed six militants, sources said. A tweet from @fhgfdgdd and @BRQNews1 reported that the son of Tariq al-Fadli was among the dead militants, which was also reported by Yafanews.

Reuters reported that “Loder residents told Reuters one person was also killed and another two injured after mortar rounds hit their houses.”

The air strike near the southern village of Loder killed at least six militants, according to a Defence Ministry statement.

Reuters could not independently confirm who launched the strike and AFP said the Yemeni government did not say if the air force or US drones were responsible. The warplanes were identified as being Yemeni in the Yafanews’ article.

Xinhua reported the attack destroyed a number of armoured vehicles captured by the militants.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a military camp southeast of the town of Lawdar (لودر) was targeted in the Abyan governorate. The generic coordinates for the town of Lawdar (لودر) are: 13.88149, 45.868922. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Civilians reported injured
    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
    6

Sources (13) [ 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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Civilians reported injured
    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
    6

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM084-B

Incident date

May 10–20, 2012

Location

جعار, Ja'ar, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.223161, 45.305486 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

An airstrike hit Jaar in mid-May of 2012, killing five Al Qaeda militants. The strike hit a house local people said was being rented by Ansar al Sharia militants. Neighbour Adnan Ahmed Saleh told NPR: ‘I got back inside, closed the door, and then the first rocket hit’. The house next door to his was destroyed. The next day AQAP-linked militants ‘cleaned up the mess’ and ‘paid compensation for the house.’

NPR was not able to identify who was responsible for the strike but added that it sounded like a US airstrike or drone strike.

The incident occured in the morning.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that the airstrike targeted a house in the town of Ja’ar (جعار), 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 Ja’ar (جعار) are: 13.223161, 45.305486.

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
    5

Sources (2) [ 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
    5

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr103

Incident date

October 4, 2017

Location

Yakla, Al Bayda, Yemen

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike reportedly killed two alleged AQAP militants, including AQAP leader Shroum al-Sanaani, in Yakla, in the Radaa area of Bayda governorate, on the evening of October 4th 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.

In a later email to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a US Central Command spokesperson confirmed that a strike in Bayda governorate on October 4th had killed one AQAP fighter.

Several sources at the time, including AFP, reported that two men were killed while travelling on a motorbike in Yakla. One local language Twitter source, Hamrin News, suggested that both of those killed were leadership figures in AQAP, though most instead reported that al-Sanaani’s “companion” was unidentified.

The incident occured in the evening.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • 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
    2

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

US Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • 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
    2

Sources (31) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM054-C

Incident date

March 30, 2012

Location

عزان, Azzan, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.325037, 47.448612 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Street level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Initial reports suggested that one civilian was killed and six to eight civilians, including three to six children, were injured in an alleged US drone strike targeting a vehicle allegedly carrying AQAP members, in the city of Azzan in Shabwa Province at 4pm on the 30th of March 2012. A later report by Akkarama on the attack revealed that one civilian was killed and six children and a woman were injured by flying shrapnel. Furthermore between two and five militants were killed and three others were injured.

The Yemen Times alleged that the drones launched two missiles at a Hyundai which was thought to belong to militants with connections to Al Qaeda.

Reuters reported that officials and residents claim that a bystander was killed and five other civilians wounded. Zeenews added that an official at the local hospital in Azzan claimed, “six people in a car travelling in the opposite direction of the targeted vehicle were wounded, one of whom later died.”

Based on intelligence, it was reported by the Yemen Times that an Al Qaeda leader named Nasser al-Wahaishi, also known as Abu Naseer, was in Azzan and in the vicinity. However, he was not killed in this strike (he was killed in a US drone strike in 2015). The paper reported that after the attack, locals found the bodies of seven people scattered over the road. The source identified the civilian killed as: Mohamed Saleh Al-Suna, 55 from Al-Hawta city in Shabwa died from injuries sustained from shrapnel in the strike”.

The children injured were identified by Alkarama as:

Amin Ali Hassan al Wisabi, 13, hit by shrapnel in the right thigh

Hamza Khaled Saleh Ba Zihyad, 10, hit by shrapnel in the chest

Saleh Ali Omar Ba Ziyad, 14, hit by shrapnel in the thigh

Merouan Nasser Ahmed Suleiman Ba Btah, 14, hit by shrapnel in the right foot

Abdallah Muhammed Muhammed Ba Qtiyan, 14, hit by shrapnel in the back

Saleh Abdelfattah Abdallah Haymid Ba Qtiyan, 12, hit by shrapnel in the back

Another of the victims was a woman by the name of Samira Hamadi Al-Wisabi, aged 48. Her son Nadir, aged 14, recalls: “My mother suffered paralysis during the bombing.”

China Daily reported that: “Medics told Xinhua anonymously that eight civilians were injured during the air strike and had been brought to treatment in a nearby hospital.” and further quoted a local resident who told the news agency: “Flames and smoke could be seen rising from the bombing area following the air raid”.

Yemen Fox also reported on the incident and claimed that the attack targeted Al Qaeda leader Nasser al Wahaisihi, also known as Abu Naseer. It quoted a local who said that a local named Seleh al-Senh (likely the same as the civilian above) was killed and three children injured.

A year later a report by Alkarama investigated the incident and revealed that Mohamed Saleh Al-Suna (60) who was passing by was killed and six children were injured due to the attack. Amin Ali Hassan Al-Wisabi (13) was quoted saying: “I was sitting with my friends there, and we were going to play football, when suddenly we were shaken by the sound of a violent explosion. I looked in front of me and saw a car burning. A missile had struck it. Shrapnel hit me in my foot, but I didn’t feel any pain, and I ran towards the house with blood flowing from my injury. I saw the car burning beside me and one of my friends lost consciousness. Someone came with a car and took us to the hospital.”

The Long War Journal stated that the US aircraft targeted a vehicle driving in Azzan, allegedly transporting senior AQAP leaders after leaving a mosque after a Friday prayer. The Journal reported that a Yemeni official told the associated press that” 4 AQAP fighters were killed and three critically wounded”.

Boston News added that the three injured militants were brought to the Al Qaeda-run hospital in Shabwa.

Contrary to the Journal and Boston News, Reuters, Aljazeera and Zeennews claim the death of five AQAP militants. Reuters claims that “at least five suspected Al Qaeda militants travelling in a car in southern Yemen’s Shabwa province were killed when a drone strike set their vehicle on fire” while the Alkarma report states the death of two militants. A tweet from @BaFana3 quoted local sources who said that Fahd AlQuso was killed in the strikes. However, he was not killed in this strike – he was killed by another US drone strike in May 2012.

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the casualties to a US drone strike.

Reuters revealed that as retaliation and as a reaction to the attack, a gunman believed to be connected to the militants killed and blew up a gas pipeline which ”transports gas to a facility whose leading stakeholder is French oil major Total at Balhaf port on the Arabian Sea” energy workers said.

The incident occured at 16:00:00 local time.

The victims were named as:

Adult male killed
14 years old injured
10 years old injured
13 years old injured
Samira Hamadi Al-Wisabi
48 years old female injured

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention several locations in the town of Azzan (عزان), the main road, a land road in the Western outskirts of the town and the main market. A possible location for the land road is: 14.329183, 47.440177; the main road can be found here: 14.325037, 47.448612. The location of the main market is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    6–8
  • 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
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (38) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • "Three al-Qaeda members were killed in Shabwa province by an air strike" Image posted by Islam Times

US Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

US Forces

U.S. drones attack militants in Pakistan, Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.-operated drones carried out deadly missile strikes against suspected al Qaeda targets in Pakistan and Yemen on Friday, U.S. government sources said.

There was no connection between the targets in the two locations, other than the fact that both sets of militants who were attacked were believed to have had some connection with al Qaeda affiliates, according to the sources.
Reports from Aden said that at least five suspected al Qaeda militants travelling in a car in southern Yemen’s Shabwa province were killed when a drone strike set their vehicle on fire. Witnesses said a second drone hit an empty building.
In Miranshah, the main town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, a drone strike killed four suspected militants and wounded three others, local intelligence officials and militants said. An intelligence official claimed the dead men were local Taliban militants.
Both drone strikes are understood to have been conducted as part of a long-running campaign intended to kill and disrupt al-Qaeda using missile-firing drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, which declines comment on such operations.
U.S. officials cited the latest drone attacks as a refutation of recent news reports suggesting the United States was curtailing drone operations.
One report, which U.S. officials denied, said that earlier this year, the United States had offered a suspension of drone attacks in Pakistan in connection with efforts to improve strained bilateral relations.
A U.S. official said: “The United States is conducting, and will continue to conduct, the counter terrorism operations it needs to protect the U.S. and its interests.”
The official added that the United States and Pakistan were continuing to engage in “an ongoing dialogue about how best the two countries can enhance their cooperation against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that threaten the citizens and interests of both countries.”
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
U.S. officials acknowledged the rate of drone strikes in Pakistan had declined over the past year.
For a two-month period beginning late last year, attacks were suspended, in part to ease Pakistani anger over a November border incident in which U.S. forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in an aerial bomb attack along a remote area of the Afghan/Pakistan border.
U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan, where U.S. authorities believe many al Qaeda and Taliban militants take shelter, resumed in January. But the rate of attacks has remained scaled back compared to more frequent strikes which followed a loosening of the rules for targeting such attacks in the final months of the Bush administration.
Bush’s new rules of engagement for drones, in which gatherings of suspected “foreign fighters” could be targeted without hard information that a “high value” militant leader was among them, remained unchanged under president Barack Obama, until relations between Washington and Islamabad started on a downward spiral in late 2010.
U.S.-Pakistan tensions continued to deteriorate following incidents like the May 2011 raid in which U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden at a hideout near Pakistan’s principal military academy and the wayward U.S. airstrike last November.
As a consequence, in recent months the frequency of drone strikes has been noticeably scaled back. One U.S. official said that under updated procedures, more and higher-level, advance scrutiny is being given within the U.S. government before authorizations for attacks are issued.

According to a U.S. source, the latest drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen targeted persons who could be considered as suspected members of the leadership of al Qaeda’s Pakistani and Yemeni affiliates.
In neither case were the targets, whose fates are unconfirmed, figures who would be known to the general public as militant leaders, the source said.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    6–8
  • 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
    2–5
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (38) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEMTr154-C

Incident date

March 7, 2018

Location

الهدي, Al Hudhi, Hadramaut, Yemen

Geolocation

16.30299, 47.24515 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

One civilian was reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Al Hudhi, Hadhramout, at around 5pm on March 7th 2018, “a member of his family and independent observers” told The Intercept. Saleh al-Wuhair was reportedly killed as he stood on a hill in the area, looking for a mobile phone signal. No other known sources specifically reported this strike.

As The Intercept report noted: “Two days after Amer was killed [on march 5th], a man named Saleh al-Wuhair stood on top of a hill in al-Hudhi, looking for cell service to make a call. At around 5 p.m., a missile came flying down and killed him, according to a member of his family and independent observers in Yemen. Because the area was targeted twice in two days, tribe members drove out to al-Hudhi to urge residents to relocate to a safer place.”

Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars. An on-the-ground investigator reported that a strike had killed a twenty-year-old man while he was walking, likely referring to Saleh al-Wuhair, but suggested that the strike took place on March 8th.

Saleh was reportedly a member of the Al-Mahashima tribe, whose members were allegedly targeted by multiple strikes in March 2018. He was among a group of internally-displaced persons, who had fled fighting in Al-Jawf.

Local sources denied that Saleh had any affiliations to either AQAP or ISIS. One of his relatives told The Intercept that Saleh’s uncle was an AQAP leader killed by a drone strike around five years previously. Writing in The Guardian, Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohamed Askar said that a government committee had collected evidence that the target of strikes in the area at the beginning of March were civilians, but did not specifically mention this alleged event.

A US Central Command spokesperson later told the Long War Journal that a strike had taken place in Hadhramout on March 7th 2018. Since there were no other known reports of a strike on that day, this event is treated as confirmed. US Central Command also told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that allegations of civilian harm in this strike were ‘non-credible’, due to what it said was a lack of available evidence.

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 5:00 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Adult male killed

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention Al Hudhi (الهدي) without specifying whether it is an area or a settlement. One possible location for this incident is within the vicinity of the Hudhi (هدي) hill, for which the generic coordinates are: 16.30299, 47.24515. 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
    1
  • (1 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.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

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
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm, No reason given
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

US Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • Apr 29, 2019
  • Email to Bureau of Investigative Journalism A CENTCOM spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: "After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances of each civilian casualty report you provided, all four were assessed to be non-credible."

  • 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

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.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 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.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM045-B

Incident date

December 22, 2011

Location

زنجبار‎, Zinjibar, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.129059, 45.380422 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Up to five people, allegedly members of Al Qaeda, were killed in an alleged US drone strike or naval shelling on an extremist site in Bagdar neighborhood in the city of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province in southern Yemen on the evening of December 22nd, 2011 according to local sources and news outlets.

One of the casualties, Abdulrahman al Wuhayshi, was reportedly a relative of Nasser al Wuhayshi, a Yemeni who lead AQAP and was once Osama bin Laden’s personal aide in Afghanistan according to the sources. Local journalist Mohamad gad (@mohamadgad0) and other sources such as USA Today claimed that Abdulrahman was Nasser’s brother, however others such as Reuters reported that a security source said he was related to Nasser but “not a brother or a member of Nasser al-Wuhayshi’s immediate family circle”. According to the Long War Journal, the role of Abdulrahman in AQAP is unknown, and his death has not been confirmed by AQAP. Reuters also mentioned that “there was no word of any death of a leading militant on Islamist websites where al Qaeda often announces such news”.

Regarding the type of the attack, Almasdar online, Adengad and other local sources reported that five members of Al Qaeda organization were killed in a US naval shelling on a site near the city of Zinjibar. Whereas, other sources including Reuters and National Yemen who were reporting the death of Abdulrahman claimed that he was killed by a US drone strike. On the other hand, USA today said that according to AP “Yemeni security and military officials say a brother of Yemen’s Al Qaeda leader was among five people killed in the latest of a series of battles raging for days in the south of the country”.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a district in the town of Zinjibar (زنجبار‎) in the Abyan governorate was targeted. It is unclear which district is referred to. The generic coordinates for the town of Zinjibar (زنجبار‎) are: 13.129059, 45.380422. 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, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • 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

Sources (13) [ 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, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • 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

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM033-C

Incident date

September 5, 2011

Location

مشفى الرازي في جعار, Al-Razi Hospital, Jaar, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.211636, 45.308129 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Dozens of Al Qaeda linked militants were killed and injured during an alleged airstrike conducted by the Yemeni armed forces targeting the al-Razi hospital in Jaar on September 5th, 2011. Up to two civilians may have been killed in this attack.

AFP quoted a medical official in Al-Razi hospital in Jaar, who confirmed the toll from the previous strike on the Mosque (USYEM032-C), and witnesses said that another raid struck the hospital, wounding two more people, without specifying if they were militants or civilians.

The National reported that the occupation of the hospital by militants had been ongoing for 2 months and local Mr Abdulhabib claimed that doctors only treat militants. He further told the National:” The hospital has been heavily damaged in three strikes. Dozens of militants have been killed and wounded”.

Mnyc reiterated these claims reporting that “dozens of Al Qaeda operatives who were inside were killed, according to statements by the Yemeni government”.

YMN added that the airstrikes hit the backyard of the hospital in which the refrigerator for the dead was located, and further hit the outpatient building at the front of the hospital whilst the third strike hit the centre of the building, the reception hall. Aljaml reported that not only the hospital was destroyed but a number of houses near the hospital were also destroyed.

While Amnesty International, along with other sources, reported the strike was carried out by the Yemen Air Force, the NGO said it ‘cannot exclude the possibility that some of the air strikes documented in this report may have been carried out by US drones’.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the Al Razi Hospital (مشفى الرازي) in the town of Jaar (جعار), for which the generic coordinates are: 13.211636, 45.308129. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian infrastructure
    Healthcare facility
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • 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
    12–24
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–24

Sources (24) [ 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 infrastructure
    Healthcare facility
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • 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
    12–24
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–24

Sources (24) [ collapse]