Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEMTr013

Incident date

March 2, 2017

Location

الوضيع, Wadi'a district, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.713333, 46.011944 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

District

Airwars assessment

Multiple sources suggested that, on the afternoon of March 2nd 2017, a US airstrike targeted a car in farmland surrounding the Wadea district of Abyan province, reportedly killing five AQAP militants – including a regional militant leader in Dar Saad Aden.  There were no reported civilian casualties.

Multiple sources named the AQAP leader as Osama Haidar, and named the others killed as Rasas al-Adani, Saraq al-Adani, Radwan al-Adani, and Hamli al-Bureiki.

The car, reportedly a Corolla, was said to have been struck at 3:30pm while, according to one source, it was transporting weapons and explosives from Wadea to Mojan in al-Maraqisha.  One local language Facebook source indicated that the strike took place on Al-Waddi Road, in the al-Khobar area. On March 6th, the New York Times reported that the strike took place as the car passed through a farm. After the strike, AQAP militants reportedly removed five bodies from the wrecked car.

Speaking with NBC, Haidar’s brother-in-law, Aly Mohamed Somly, confirmed that Osama Haidar was killed in a strike against a car, along with four others. Somly told NBC that Haidar had joined AQAP after the organisation freed him from jail, where he was tortured. NBC reported that, according to Somly, “Haidar fought with al Qaeda against the Iranian-backed Shia Houthi rebels. He then found himself fighting Saudi and United Arab Emirates forces when those countries began fighting al Qaeda”. Akhbar al-Youm reported that Osama Haidar also went by the name “Abu Al-Bara”, and was accused of killing sixteen people in an attack on a nursing home in Sheikh Othman district, Aden, in 2016.

This reported airstrike took place amid a dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP. On March 3rd, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davies announced that more than thirty strikes had been conducted since March 2nd in Yemen. On the same day, Associated Press reported that Yemeni officials and residents said that the US had conducted “dozens of airstrikes on al-Qaida targets in Yemen overnight and in the past 48 hours in one of the lengthiest, sustained operations inside this conflict-torn Arab country”. A US military intelligence source told NBC News that the strikes beginning March 2nd were “part of ‘new directives’ to aggressively pursue the Dhahab and Qayfa clans”.

The incident occured at approximately 3:30 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    On March 3rd, AQAP reportedly released photos of the alleged militants killed in the reported US strike in al-Mazra'a (Aden Al-Ghad, March 3rd 2017)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    On March 3rd, AQAP reportedly released photos of the alleged militants killed in the reported US strike in al-Mazra'a (Aden Al-Ghad, March 3rd 2017)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    On March 3rd, AQAP reportedly released photos of the alleged militants killed in the reported US strike in al-Mazra'a (Aden Al-Ghad, March 3rd 2017)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    On March 3rd, AQAP reportedly released photos of the alleged militants killed in the reported US strike in al-Mazra'a (Aden Al-Ghad, March 3rd 2017)
  • A US drone strike allegedly targeted AQAP militants travelling in al-Mazra'a area on March 2nd 2017, killing five (Akhbar al-Youm, March 4th 2017)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck within farmland in the south of the Wadi’a (الوضيع) district while travelling towards the village of Al Khabr (الخبر). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the district are: 13.713333, 46.011944

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck within farmland in the south of the Wadi’a (الوضيع) district while travelling towards the village of Al Khabr (الخبر).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

The U.S. military conducted precision strikes today in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to target the dangerous terrorist group that is intent on attacking the West, a Pentagon spokesman said.

With today's actions, the United States has carried out more than 30 strikes in Yemen since yesterday against the terrorist group, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters.

"These counterterrorism strikes were conducted in partnership with the government of Yemen," Davis said, adding, "U.S. forces will continue to target [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] militants and facilities in order to disrupt the terrorist organization's plots and ultimately to protect American lives."

The results of the strikes are still being assessed, Davis said.

Aimed At Degrading Terrorist Capabilities

The aim of the strikes is to keep the pressure on the terrorists and deny them access and freedom of movement within traditional safe havens, Davis said. "They've taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terrorist attacks against the United States," he added. "We'll continue to work with the government of Yemen and our partners on the ground to defeat [the organization] and deny it the ability to operate."

The actions since have targeted militants, equipment and infrastructure in the governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah and will degrade the terrorist group's ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit its ability to use territory seized from Yemen’s legitimate government as a safe space for terror plotting, the captain said.

U.S. forces have not been involved in or near any firefights in Yemen since late January, Davis said. In that January operation, Navy Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens was killed and three other U.S. service members were wounded.

Extremely Dangerous al-Qaida Affiliate

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula remains an extremely dangerous al-Qaida affiliate, and is taking advantage of the chaos in the country from the civil war there, Davis said, noting that the organization “has more American blood on its hands" than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria does.

Davis said al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is a "deadly terrorist organization that has proven itself to be very effective in targeting and killing Americans, and they have intent and aspirations to continue doing so."

The organization is integral to al-Qaida and remains intent on attacking Western targets, specifically the United States, a defense official said, speaking on background.

Total group strength in Yemen is in the "low thousands," the official said, adding that it remains a local and regional threat and directly contributes to the instability inside Yemen.

"This is a dangerous group locally, regionally and transnationally, to include against the United States, the West and our allies," the official said.

The terrorists have "skillfully exploited the disorder in Yemen to build its strength and reinvigorate its membership and training," the official said, noting that because members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula tend to be from Yemen, they can blend in with the tribes there.

There have been notable successes against the group, the official said, including killing some of its key leaders.

Iraq Update

In other news, Davis updated reporters on progress in Iraq in liberating western Mosul from ISIS. Iraqi forces have cut across Highway 1, effectively isolating Mosul from the Syrian city of Raqqa, he said. Some areas in the north are still ISIS-controlled, he said, so Mosul is not completely severed from Raqqa.

"But in terms of having a road, that road is now cut," he said.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    5

Sources (16) [ collapse]