Reported airstrikes, which some local sources said were US drone strikes, targeted alleged AQAP militants on a farm in the Al Sabkha area, east of Ahwar city, early on April 1st 2017. There are no known associated reports of civilian harm, though one report suggested that a civilian farm was destroyed.
Several sources reported that two strikes targeted a farm near Qaroub area, and that local residents found burnt clothes and shoes near the location of one strike. According to press sources reported by Yemenat, the strikes killed AQAP militants stationed in the area. Yemanat also claimed that aircraft from the Saudi-led Coalition had reconnoitred the location before the attack.
According to the Aden Times, strikes against the farm killed an alleged AQAP leader who had escaped from previous strikes in Mogan, Al Maraqisha. Airwars has therefore assessed that between one and two militants were reportedly killed in the strike. The newspaper also claimed that the strikes were in fact conducted by a Saudi-led coalition F-16, with the support of a US drone.
SMA News reported that the 3am strikes hit a farm, which it named as Alawi Nasser Al Qaraa farm, but with no AQAP militants present. According to this source, the strikes burnt all of the crops on the farm and destroyed two-hundred bee hives. SMA News also reported that strikes took place in the Bandar and al-Faqqa areas, east of Ahwar, though no other sources mentioned these locations.
Sources varied in attributing responsibility to a particular belligerent. Some described the strikes as US or American, while others indicated that Arab coalition aircraft “backed by US drones” were responsible. Airwars has therefore assessed this strike as “contested”.
This reported event took place amid a dramatic intensification of US operations against AQAP, beginning in early March 2017. On April 3rd 2017, Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said that, since February 28th 2017, seventy US airstrikes were conducted in Yemen.
The incident occured at 3:00 am local time.
Sources (8) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of the coastal salt marshes (سبخة), located within the Qaroub (علبوب) area, south of Ahwar (أحور) city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Ahwar are: 13.519256, 46.712837.
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.