US drone strikes reportedly targeted a large gathering of alleged AQAP militants near Al Shubayka, north of Ataq in Shabwa governorate, at around midnight from April 1st to April 2nd 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
Several sources reported that the strikes targeted a meeting of AQAP leaders in Al-Shubayka village, on the outskirts of Ataq, with illumination shells fired in the area to track the militants. For example Salmashad reported that “air strikes targeed al-Qaeda members in the village of Al-Shabik, north of Ataq, Shabwa governorate, after intelligence was obtained suggesting a meeting of the leaders of the organization.” The same source claimed that the attack continued against alleged AQAP militants fleeing the village by car, though no known sources mentioned the number of militant casualties, if any.
Some sources, for example Yafa News, described the strikes as preventing an attack by militant vehicles on nearby Ataq airport, though the reasoning for these reports was unclear.
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, 70 US airstrikes were conducted in Yemen.
The incident occured around midnight.
Sources (24) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a strike in the vicinity of Al Shubayka (الشبيك) village, for which the generic coordinates are: 14.665188, 46.812263. 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.