Reported US drone strikes targeted alleged AQAP militants in the Al Bazqama and Riman area of Mudiyah, Abyan governorate at dawn on March 31st 2017. There were no known reports of civilian casualties, though some sources claimed that a civilian farm had been destroyed.
Alittihad reported that, according to a local source, three strikes took place, one of which targeted and killed AQAP militants, including a “field leader”, travelling in a car near a farm near Al Bazqama area. It was also reported that, according to local officials, the strike targeted AQAP training and “positioning” sites.
Local language sources, for example al Sharq, reported that a single AQAP operative was killed in a drone strike in the same Bazgama area – some said, while travelling in a vehicle. It was unclear whether this referred to the same strike against a vehicle reported by Alittihad.
Aden Now News suggested that US airstrike targeted a chicken farm, “used to manufacture improvised explosive devices and car bombs”, also in the Al Bazqama area, though other Twitter sources said that it was instead a civilian family farm. It is possible that this strike was the same as that which reportedly targeted AQAP militants near to a farm in Al Bazqama.
Airwars has assessed the minimum number of alleged belligerent casualties as two, drawing on the Alittihad report that plural militants were killed, and reflecting the possibility that the single reported AQAP militant death in a vehicle referred to the same strike. The maximum has been set at three, reflecting the possibility that these were discrete casualty incidents.
Assessments of the total number of strikes in the area varied. One Twitter source reported that four US drone strikes took place in Mudiyah on that morning, targeting “suspected #AQAP militant sites and a vehicle”, while Alittihad suggested that three took place in Al Bazqamah and Riman. Others suggested that two strikes targeted Al Bazqamah and Riman areas, with a third targeting Mudiyah city centre.
This strike allegedly 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 incident occured around dawn.
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from sources (1) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention farmland being struck in the Bazqama (بازقامة) and Riman (ريمان) area, within the Mudiyah (مودية) district, for which, due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the Mudiya district are: 13.904075, 46.233215.
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.