Multiple sources reported that US airstrikes targeted alleged AQAP militants in Jabal Novan, Bayda governorate, overnight from March 1st to March 2nd, killing three. There were no known reports of civilian casualties.
Local language sources suggested that strikes targeted an al-Qaeda “training centre” in the town of Jabal Novan, in the area of Qaifa. These strikes came in conjunction with other reported US strikes in the Qaifa region in Yakla, Dhi Kalb, and Jassima.
According to local sources allegedly spoken with by Al Mawqea Post, US strikes in the Qaifa area continued from 4am until 7am, across many areas held by AQAP forces. These sources also reported that five AQAP members were killed and two injured during the Qaifa strikes, naming the casualties as “Abu al-Muhajir al-Abi, Musab al-Ryashi, Hamza al-Hadrami, Abu Turab al-Hadrami, and Dujana al-Sanani”. It was unclear which of these individuals, if any, were those three militants allegedly killed in Jabal Novan.
This strike allegedly 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”. 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 between 4:00 am and 7:00 am local time.
Sources (17) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the village of Jabal Novan (جبل نوفان), north from the town of Rada’a (رداع), within the Qifah (قيفه) area, for which the coordinates are: 14.493551, 44.760258. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US 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.