A US drone strike reportedly killed alleged AQAP leadership figure Nayef Al-Damaji and his “companions” in the Sharjan area of Al Suma’a district, Bayda governorate, on March 30th 2017, according to two local-language news outlets. There were no known reports of civilian harm.
According to both sources, Yemen Voice and Akhbarak, the strike targeted Al-Damaji as he travelled in a car between Suma’a and Makirais. Al-Damaji was alleged to be the AQAP leader in Lauder, Abyan governorate. Akhbarak cited a Sky News Arabia report, which could not be found by Airwars.
The strike reportedly killed Al-Damaji and “a number” of his “companions”. Given this, Airwars has assessed that a minimum of three militants were reportedly killed in this strike.
Other sources alleged that a strike had targeted Al-Damaji’s home in Al Wade’a, Abyan governorate, on the same night (USYEMTr058), though some indicated that it was unclear whether Al-Damaji had been killed in his home.
This reported event took place amid a dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP beginning in early March 2017. On April 3rd, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said that, from February 28th to the final week of March, fifty US airstrikes were conducted in Yemen.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (3) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of Sharjan (شرجان) village, for which the generic coordinates are: 14.01472194, 45.80194392. 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
The U.S. military conducted airstrikes over eastern Yemen during the weekend, targeting the sites of extremist group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, director of Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.
“We continue to target [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] in Yemen, and this is done in the interest of disrupting a terror organization that presents a very significant threat to the United States,” Davis said.
Strikes Target Terrorists
During the weekend in Yemen’s Shabwah governorate, the precision airstrikes targeted al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, as well as the terrorists’ infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment, the spokesman said.
The airstrikes follow the late-January U.S. raid in Yemen during which a U.S. service member died. From Feb. 28 through last week, some 50 airstrikes were conducted, Davis noted.
The weekend airstrikes, which were largely unmanned, bring the total to 70, he said.