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

USYEM055-C

Incident date

March 30, 2012

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

The second targeted attack in a two-part alleged US airstrike hit an Al Qaeda hideout in Azzan in the Shabwa Province on the 30th of March, 2012, injuring four civilians.

The Long War Journal reported that a Predator or Reaper fired missiles at a building which was thought to be occupied by AQAP. The Long War Journal and Boston News both stated that four local residents were wounded in the strike, according to a medical official. Boston News described the location of the building as being near a main market in the town of Azzan.

In contrast to the two reports by the Long War Journal and Boston News, Reuters reported on the same incident claiming that the building was empty at the time as stated by residents.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

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
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • 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)

Sources (4) [ 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
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    4
  • 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)

Sources (4) [ 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

USYEM056-B

Incident date

April 1–3, 2012

Location

لحج‎, أبين‎, Lahj and Abyan governorates, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.43417, 45.206792 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

As many as 43 ‘suspected Al Qaeda militants’ were killed and dozens of others were wounded in alleged US drone strikes and/or Yemeni air and artillery strikes in the Al Harur area of Lahj and Abyan governorates between 1-3 April 2012.

The strikes were part of continuous raids by joint Yemeni land, sea, and air forces according to local officials. A number of Yemen officials confirmed US involvement, with one local official claiming that “The U.S. is involved in a number of the latest attacks, but that does not mean our air force is not in control of the raids occurring.” He said that the US “has taken part in three of the airstrikes, but said Yemen’s air force is leading the operation. He did not detail the type of support provided,” according to CNN. Another local security claimed U.S. drones were in support of the continuous Yemeni raids, but did not further elaborate on its role in the raids.

It is unclear whether U.S. or Yemeni military forces were primarily responsible for the suspected militants deaths. According to several Yemeni security officials, at least six suspected Al Qaeda militants were killed by Yemeni artillery shelling on 1 or 2 April 2012, and another 16 militants were killed in Zinjibar by “missiles descended from the sea”, although this might be the same incident a few weeks earlier where naval strikes also killed 16 militants in Zinjibar (USYEM051-B).

France24 reported on April 3rd that over the last 48 hours, 38 Al Qaeda members had been killed in bombings and raids and Yemen Post added that dozens were wounded, quoting local security sources. Mulkalla Star provided the highest casualty estimate – 43 militants were killed in airstrikes, specifically attributed to the Yemeni army, after heavy air bombardment which lasted for three days. Al Masdar Online quoted AFP who reported that a group leader named Abu Bilal, a Somali national, was among the militants killed.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident only mention the southern governorates of Lahj (لحج‎) and Abyan (أبين‎). The coordinates for between those two areas are: 13.434170, 45.206792. 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
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    38–43
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–24

Sources (23) [ 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
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    38–43
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–24

Sources (23) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM057-B

Incident date

April 7–8, 2012

Location

الصحراء بين محافظتي شبوة ومأرب, Desert road between Shabwa and Ma’rib governorates, Ma'rib, Yemen

Geolocation

15.177232, 45.718462 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Up to eight members of Al Qaeda were reported killed in an alleged US drone strike on a moving vehicle in Shabwa province, on the desert road between Shabwa and Ma’rib governorates, on April 7/8, 2012. There are currently no known reports of civilian harm.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the target was AQAP number three, Qasim al-Raimi. It reported that “After nightfall Saturday, Mr Raimi and three followers started driving on a road out of Shebwa toward Marib,” residents said.

Around 10 pm, a missile struck the road near their car, but missed the vehicle, according to two local security officials.

Reuters similarly reported that the rockets were fired by the US drones in the area at the suspected Al Qaeda vehicles but missed their original target, hitting the road instead. A sources close to Al Qaeda told Xinhua anonymously that “unmanned U.S. drones struck some of our sites in Shabwa, but nobody was killed in the air bombing.”

However, according to an unnamed tribal chief, the strike “killed eight Al Qaeda suspects”, who he identified as five Yemenis and three Arab foreigners.

Alarabiya reported likewise stating the same numbers of dead, adding that US spy planes were also flying in the region. Long War Journal wrote that the US drone attacks were successful, killing 8 Al Qaeda fighters. A tweet from @SUHFNET_YE reported that five people were killed.

“Al Qaeda militants were aboard a vehicle on their way from Shabwa to (nearby) Marib province when a US drone fired a missile at their vehicle, killing them all.”  The chief also reported that drones were seen “flying over several areas in Shabwa, especially those which are Al-Qaeda strongholds — Rawdah, Huta, and Azzan”.

The Yemen Air Force reportedly lacks the technical ability to carry out such a strike, indicating the US was responsible.

The incident occured at 22:00:00 local time.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a convoy of Al Qaeda vehicles was targeted as it was travelling on a desert road between Shabwa and Ma’rib governorates. The generic coordinates for the area between these two governorates are: 15.177232, 45.718462. 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
    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
    5–8

Sources (15) [ 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
    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
    5–8

Sources (15) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM058-B

Incident date

April 7–8, 2012

Location

الكود, Al Kawd, Khanfir district, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.086015, 45.364084 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between 16 and 24 militants were killed in a series of alleged US or Yemeni airstrikes on Al Kawd village in the governorate of Abyan on April 8th, 2012, according to local sources. There were no reports of harm to civilians.

According to a tweet from @hbashrbash, 24 Al Qaeda militants were killed in naval missile strikes on the outskirts of Zinjibar. However, it seems likely that this total is combining the 16 militants killed in Al Kawd village and the eight militants killed in a vehicle in southern Yemen (USYEM057-B).

The Yemen Defence Ministry released a statement that “about 16 suspected Al Qaida militants were killed in the al-Kawd area near Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.” However, Xinhua referred to the airstrikes as Yemeni-US joint air raids.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Al Koud (or Al Kawd) (الكود), near the town of Zinjibar (زنجبار‎) in the governorate of Abyan (أبين‎). The generic coordinates for the town of Al Koud (الكود) are: 13.086015, 45.364084. 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 and/or Artillery, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    16–24

Sources (9) [ 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 and/or Artillery, Naval bombardment
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    16–24

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM059-B

Incident date

April 11, 2012

Location

العين, Loder village, Al Ain, Lawdar district, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.79898, 45.887205 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

On the evening of Wednesday April 11th 2012, an airstrike allegedly by Yemeni forces or US drone strikes which hit a car with suspected Al Qaeda militants killed between two and fourteen militants and injuring between seven and 10 others, near the town of Lawder in the Abyan governorate, an area on a key highway that links an Al Qaeda stronghold in Zinjibar with other provinces where the group is also active. The vehicle was claimed to be a Yemeni military truck reported stolen in previous clashes according to Press TV. There are currently no reports of civilian harm.

Most sources, such as Press TV, Fox News, and The Hill reported twelve casualties, while Xinhua accounted for fourteen killed belligerents. Numerous twitter accounts, including @anaalyemenii @SUHFNET_YE, published almost the same tweet reporting two Al Qaeda operatives killed.

The attack was confirmed by the Yemeni Minister of Defence the same day on the website, reporting twelve casualties among militants of Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who called themselves Ansar al-Sharia, two of which were local leaders named Dardish Ahmed Mohammed Taher and Imad al-Manshaby. This information was also reported by Fox News, Almasdar Online, Yemen Post, and Akhbaria Net, and Fox News also reported that Saudis, Somalis and a Pakistani were among the casualties.

Almasdar Online quoted a statement from Ansar al-Sharia that two members of the group were killed and seven others were wounded on April 11th, 2012.

Sources were conflicted as to whether the Yemeni military or US forces were responsible for the attack, with a local government official telling Xinhua that a US drone carried out the strikes while tweets from @anaalyemenii and @_alakwa blamed the Yemeni government.

The attack was part of a series of clashes in the area that lasted days between Yemeni armed forces with local tribesmen against Al-Qaeda, allegedly causing numerous losses with Akhbaria Net reporting at least forty on the day of the strike that the belligerent group denied, claiming only seven militants had been killed.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention that a convoy near the town of Al Ain (or Ayn) (العين) was targeted, 10 km south of the town of Lawdar (لودر). The generic coordinates for the town of Al Ain (العين) are: 13.79898, 45.887205. 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
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–14
  • Belligerents reported injured
    7–10

Sources (20) [ 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
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attackers
    US Forces, Yemeni Air Force
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–14
  • Belligerents reported injured
    7–10

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM060-B

Incident date

April 14, 2012

Location

الزاهر, Zahir district, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

13.95865, 45.419055 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Yemen defense officials announced that an alleged American unmanned drone allegedly struck a car that included a number of Ansar al Sharia and Al Qaeda members in the al Zahir district of Bayda province on April 14, 2012, killing between three and eight militants. The nighttime raid turned the car into a “collection of charred bodies” according to one witness, but there have been no reports of any civilian deaths.

Initial reports on Twitter, including @AidenLang, @marebpress, and @akbidaweb, noted that the airstrike hit a car with Al Qaeda militants on board. There were initial discrepancies concerning the number of dead, with @albidaweb noting five dead and @YamaanNA reporting eight people killed. Sky News Arabia later reported that two Yemeni military officials released a statement saying that seven Al Qaeda members were killed by a US drone. Yemen Press reported a detailed depiction of the targeting of the vehicle which included the killing of Abu Hamza Al-Sabri, also known as Abu Hamza. In a summary of the strike, Yemen Press reports described him as “one of the most prominent leaders of Al Qaeda in [the] Al-Bayda governorate”. However, al-Arabiya.net initially reported that “at least three’ militants had been killed, quoting a Ministry of Defense statement, which also included the reiteration of Yemeni military protocol that only its aircraft conduct such strikes. Reuters from England was the first to reference Ansar al Sharia, a smaller terror cell associated with Al Qaeda, but also reported that three militants were killed when their vehicle was struck. The New Times out of Rwanda reported that five Al Qaeda operatives were killed in the strike, adding to the continued inconsistency of the number of dead.

Ansar al Sharia later said that three of its fighters had died in a US drone strike.

The Associated Press released a more detailed account of the strike, saying that “seven suspected Al Qaeda members” were killed by an unmanned U.S. drone. The AP report included a statement from the Yemeni Ministry of Defense that stated that a jet fired a missile at “a vehicle carrying Al-Qaeda members, destroying it and the people inside”. One witness, Abdel-Salam Al-Ansi, described the car as a “ball of fire” following the missile strike.

Associated Press cited two Yemen military officials as saying that US drones had carried out the attack in Bayda province, with a security official telling AFP the same. Yemen’s air force reportedly lacked the ability to launch precision strikes on moving vehicles.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention that a moving vehicle was targeted in the Az Zahir (الزاهر) district of the governorate Al Bayda (ٱلْبَيْضَاء‎). The generic coordinates for the Az Zahir (الزاهر) district are: 13.95865, 45.419055. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The Az Zahir (الزاهر) district of the governorate Al Bayda (ٱلْبَيْضَاء‎)

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    No
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Suspected attacker
    US Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3–8

Sources (19) [ 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
    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
    3–8

Sources (19) [ collapse]

Incident Code

USYEM061-B

Incident date

April 16, 2012

Location

الـخـرمـة, Kharama, Mayfa'a district, Shabwa, Yemen

Geolocation

14.360845, 47.414316 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

According to news reports and local sources, between three and seven militants were killed in a series of five alleged US drone strikes close to the village of Kharama, between the towns of Azzan and Huta in Shabwa province on the evening of the 16th of April, 2012. The strikes were conducted within the mountainous region of Salb Al-Ain against a number of different Al Qaeda positions.

Whilst the Yemen Defence Ministry initially claimed that the attacks were carried out by Yemeni warplanes, two security officials and another from the Yemen Defence Ministry later told CNN that the strikes were conducted by US drones. CNN reported that the five different strikes were made against “hideouts, checkpoints, training facilities, and weapons warehouses,” and Barakish specifically referred to an Al Qaeda point at the Azzan Al-Houta junction as being hit in the strikes..”

These facts were supported by other news outlets such as Mareb Press and Sana News. Xinhua and local sources additionally reported that a car carrying Al Qaeda militants was hit by missiles launched from a US drone as the car travelled from Kharama to the town of Azzan. Local sources told “Al-Masdar Online” that the strikes occured at an agricultural area located between the city of Azzan and Kour Ahl Hadaj called “Salb Al-Ain Farms” belonging to the Badian Al-Numan tribe.

Mareb Press and several local sources also stated that the militants killed were specifically members of the al-Qaeda linked ‘Ansar al-Sharia’ group. On the 17th of April, Xinhua reported a statement issued by an al-Qaeda spokesman who acknowledged that three of their fighters had been killed in a “US drone raid”. However, multiple sources, including @binlznmalawlaqy, put the death toll at seven militants killed.

Xinhua further stated that foreign militants were killed in the strikes, including one Syrian and an Algerian, according to a Yemeni intelligence officer. The fact that foreign fighters were killed in the attacks was also supported by several different local sources. The ‘Long War Journal’ similarly stated that the ‘Madad News Agency’, the propaganda arm of AQAP (Al Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula) announced on the 25th of April that an Egyptian jihadist known as Abu Musab al-Masri was killed “a week ago in an American bombing between the cities of Azzan and al-Hotah in Shabwa province”, an indication that al-Masri may have been killed in the drone strikes on the 16th of April.

No civilians were reported to have been killed or injured in the strikes.

Due to the nature of both CIA and US military involvement in Yemen, and the lack of official acknowledgement by the CIA for their involvement, Airwars grades this event as “declared” due to the comments made by US government sources to media, in lieu of public reporting on CIA actions.

The incident occured in the evening.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the area or village of Kharama (or Karma) (الـخـرمـة) between the towns of Azzan (عزان) and Huta (الحوطة). The coordinates for the village Kharama (الـخـرمـة) are: 14.360845, 47.414316. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • The village Kharama (or Karma) (الـخـرمـة) between the towns of Azzan (عزان) and Huta (الحوطة), with the road between the two towns marked in red

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian infrastructure
    Agriculture
  • 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
    3–7

Sources (27) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Abu Musab al Masri, an alleged Egyptian jihadist who fought alongside al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, reported to have been killed in a US drone strike in April near Azzan in Shabwa. (via Long War journal)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

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 infrastructure
    Agriculture
  • 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
    3–7

Sources (27) [ collapse]