Some local language sources suggested that a US drone strike killed at least three alleged AQAP militants travelling in a car in the Al Shuaib area, in the As Saeed directorate of Shabwah governorate. One source indicated that the strike took place in the “suburbs of Azan”. There were no reported civilian casualties.
It was unclear from available sources whether this was a unique strike incident, or if it referred to an already recorded event. Airwars has already tracked multiple allegations of a US drone strike on March 2nd against four AQAP militants travelling in a vehicle in Saeed directorate, Shabwah governorate (listed as USYEMTr011).
This claimed strike took place amid a 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. 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”.
The incident occured around dawn.
Sources (8) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck within the district of As Said (مديرية الصعيد), presumably west of its capital As Said (الصعيد), within the Shabwah (شبوة) governorate. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the capital are: 14.329436, 46.873768.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
U.S. forces conducted a series of precision strikes in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in the early morning of March 2 (Yemen time). More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah.
The strikes were conducted in partnership with the Government of Yemen, and were coordinated with President Hadi. The Government of Yemen is a valuable counter-terrorism partner, and we support its efforts to bring stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP.
The strikes will degrade the AQAP's ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to use territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen as a safe space for terror plotting. Targets of the strikes included militants, equipment, infrastructure, heavy weapons systems and fighting positions.
AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct, and inspire terror attacks against the United States and our allies. U.S. forces will continue to work with the Government of Yemen to defeat AQAP and deny it the ability to operate in Yemen.