According to a report by The Intercept, US helicopter gunships fired on the village of Al Ghayil, in the Yakla area of Al Bayda governorate, on the night of March 3rd 2017, damaging “at least six houses”. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
Late on March 3rd, one local language social media source, @toaiman1992, tweeted that “intensive” US raids had targeted the “homes of Yakla residents”. There were no other known local reports of this strike.
According to Iona Craig of The Intercept, repeated strikes against Al Ghayil at the start of March 2017 caused residents of the village, including Sheikh Aziz al Ameri and his family, to flee the area. As of the publication of The Intercept’s report on March 9th 2017, the family were said to be living under trees several miles from the village.
Al Ghayil was previously the target of a US (and allegedly, Emirati) ground raid on January 29th 2017 which had resulted in the deaths of at least 20 civilians, including eleven children. Reportedly amongst the dead were several relatives of Abdul Ilah al-Dhahab, including his son Nasser; his niece Nawar al-Awlaki; and two of his brothers, alleged AQAP militants Sultan and Abd-al-Ra’uf al-Dhahab. Multiple sources, however, disputed that the latter two were affiliated with AQAP, instead suggesting that they were instead involved with pro-Hadi militia forces.
This reported action 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 during the night.
Sources (6) [ collapse]
from sources (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a residential building being struck in the village of Al Ghayil (الغيل), for which the coordinates are: 14.592945, 45.038975. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
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].