On March 2nd 2017, a US airstrike killed AQAP members Usayd al-Adani and Yasir al-Silmi in Abyan governorate, a US Pentagon spokesperson later announced – though other sources instead named the strike location as Qaifa, in Bayda governorate. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
According to the Pentagon, al-Adani was “a longtime al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula explosives expert and facilitator who served as the organization’s emir”, while al-Silmi was a “former Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee”. Multiple sources reported that al-Silmi, also known as Mohammed Tamar, was held at Guantanamo Bay from 2002 to 2009, when he was repatriated to Yemen. Almasdar Online reported that al-Silmi, “nicknamed as Abu al Muhajir al Ebbi”, was originally from Hazm al Udain in Ibb governorate, and was an AQAP leader in charge of education while the group controlled Mukalla city, Hadramout governorate.
Though the US said the strike took place on March 2nd in Abyan, Almawqea Post reported that, according to local sources, “Abu al-Muhajir al-Abi” was among five alleged AQAP members killed by US strikes in Qaifa, Bayda governorate, at dawn on March 2nd. This discrepancy is reflected in the dual locations given by Airwars for this event.
Similarly, Almasdar Online instead reported that a later US strike took place in the Qaifa region of Bayda governorate, at dawn on March 6th, which had killed al Ebbi. A separate event assessment, USYEMTr041, has been created to account for this allegation. It is possible that a second strike was conducted against al Ebbi if he survived the first.
This action allegedly took place amid the dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP. On March 2nd, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davies announced “more than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah” early that morning.
Depending on the location and date of the strike, it is possible that this entry may refer to any one of a number of other alleged US strikes in Yemen, or may represent a distinct event.
On March 3rd, the 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 were “part of ‘new directives’ to aggressively pursue the Dhahab and Qayfa clans”.
Estimates of the total death toll on March 2nd varied; on March 3rd, Reuters reported that Thursday’s strikes left “at least nine” dead, while officials speaking with the Associated Press said that seven alleged militants had been killed.
The incident occured around dawn.
Sources (18) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the Abyan governorate (مُحَافَظَة أبين), for which the generic coordinates are: 13.703015, 46.144599. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
WASHINGTON, March 6, 2017 — Defense Department officials detected and tracked multiple missile launches out of North Korea today, four of which landed in the Sea of Japan, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters this morning.
Davis said the four medium-range ballistic missiles were launched from the northwest corner of North Korea, traveled over the Korean Peninsula and out into the sea, totaling about 1,000 kilometers in distance, or more than 620 miles.
Missiles Land Off Japan’s Coast
The missiles landed in the vicinity of Akita Prefecture off the coast of Japan near that nation’s exclusive economic zone, he said. The EEZ is defined as a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.
“The North American Aerospace Defense Command detected that the missiles from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” Davis said. “This [North Korean missile launch] is very similar in terms of the path and the distance of the three missiles that flew into Japan’s EEZ in September 2016.”
He added, “These launches, which coincide with the start of our annual defensive exercise, Foal Eagle, with the Republic of Korea’s military, are consistent with North Korea’s long history of provocative behavior, often timed to military exercises that we do with our ally,”
The United States stands with its allies “in the face of this very serious threat and are taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles, such as the deployment of a [Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense] battery to South Korea, which will happen as soon as feasible,” Davis said.
U.S. Strikes AQAP in Yemen
Also overnight, the United States made an airstrike on Yemen’s Abyan Governorate against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula fighters, bringing to 40 the strikes there in the past five nights, Davis said.
Since the first airstrike against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen on Feb. 28, “We will continue to target [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] militants and facilities to disrupt the organization’s plot and protect American lives,” the captain said.
The strikes have been coordinated with and done in full partnership with the government of Yemen with the goal of denying al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists’ freedom of movement within traditional safe havens, Davis emphasized.
The captain also confirmed the deaths of three al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in March 2 and 3 airstrikes in Yemen.
Usayd al Adani, whom Davis described as a longtime al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula explosives expert and facilitator who served as the organization’s emir, was killed in a U.S. airstrike March 2 within the Abyan Governorate. Killed with him was former Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee Yasir al Silmi.
Killed March 3 was al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula fighter and communications intermediary for Adani, Harithah al Waqri, Davis said.
“[Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against the United States and our allies,” he said. “And we will continue to work with the government of Yemen to defeat [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula].