A US drone strike reportedly killed at least two alleged AQAP militants travelling in the Hotat al-Faqih Ali area of Mayfa’a district in Shabwa governorate, late on April 18th 2017. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
Though most local language social media sources and other media, such as Sahafahnet, reported that two men were killed in a car between Al-Houta and Azan, the Associated Press and Akhbaralaan reported that five alleged militants were killed in the strike. Andalou Agency, citing a local security official, was alone in saying that two vehicles were struck in Shabwa.
Several sources reported that the strike killed AQAP leaders Saleh Al-Awlaki and Saeed Baqadir, also named by one source as Saeed Mahdi Al-Hass. However other sources indicated that the men were killed in another overnight strike in Marib governorate. Mandab Press for example claimed that four unnamed AQAP members died in Shabwa’s Mayfa’a district; while al Awlaki and al Hass separately died in Marib governorate.
On April 24th 2017, the Pentagon announced that the US had carried out over eighty strikes in Yemen since February 28th 2017.
The incident occured in the evening.
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Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck on the road connecting the towns of Al Hawtah (الحوطة) to Azzan (عزان). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the road are: 14.351569, 47.418525.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2017 — Coalition and U.S. strikes continue to aid progress against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Iraq and Syria, and against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said here today.
Today is day 65 of the operation to liberate western Mosul in Iraq, he said, and yesterday Iraqi forces gained another 6 square kilometers along the forward line of troops on the axis of attack moving from the south toward Mosul’s old city.
Members of the Iraqi Emergency Response Division and the Federal Police maintained defensive positions along their eastern boundary and the Tigress River. The Counterterrorism Service also gained new ground and the Iraqi army’s 9th Division continued to defend positions west of Mosul. Clearing operations continue in eastern Mosul, Davis reported.
Supporting Iraq Operations
“The total number of munitions delivered since Oct. 17 in support of operations to liberate Mosul is 22,107,” he added.
The munitions destroyed total 259 vehicle-borne bombs, 638 buildings and facilities, 209 tunnels, 684 vehicles, 914 bunkers, 38 anti-aircraft artillery systems, 542 artillery and mortar systems, and 279 boats and barges, Davis said.
On April 23, coalition military forces conducted seven strikes consisting of 49 engagements against ISIS targets.
Near Rawah, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS staging area, according to a statement by Operation Inherent Resolve officials.
Near Mosul, the officials said, six strikes engaged five ISIS tactical units; destroyed 11 fighting positions, eight heavy machine guns, four rocket-propelled grenade systems, two ISIS-held buildings, an ISIS-held bridge and a vehicle-borne bomb; damaged 14 ISIS supply routes and a fighting position; and suppressed four rocket teams, three mortar teams and an ISIS tactical unit.
Operations in Syria
In the fight for Raqqa in Syria, the Pentagon spokesman said, Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated another 2 square kilometers in the Raqqa valley north and Tabqah areas, and in the Raqqa valley north on the western axis.
“The SDF is reporting large numbers of internally displaced persons fleeing ISIS-held areas around there,” Davis added, noting that ISIS does not control the Tabqah dam or the city but the city is almost entirely surrounded.
In Syria yesterday, according to an OIR statement, coalition military forces conducted 24 strikes consisting of 48 engagements against ISIS targets.
Near Dayr Az Zawr, three strikes destroyed three ISIS wellheads. Near Palmyra, two strikes destroyed four fighting positions and two ISIS shipping containers.
Near Raqqa, seven strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units and destroyed three fighting positions, a heavy machine gun, a tactical vehicle and an ISIS wellhead. And near Tabqah, 12 strikes engaged 10 ISIS tactical units and destroyed 12 fighting positions, a tactical vehicle, an ISIS vehicle, a heavy machine gun and a command-and-control node.
U.S. forces conducted a strike April 18 in the Ma’rib governorate against three al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, and another strike yesterday in the Shabwa governorate against eight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, Davis said.
“Since February 28, we've conducted more than 80 precision strikes against AQAP militants, infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment, and we'll continue to conduct operations including strikes against known terrorists,” he added.
Davis said U.S. forces are conducting a series of sustained operations in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to degrade the group's ability to coordinate external terror attack operations and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen and use it as a safe haven for terror plotting.
Centcom is still assessing the results of the most recent strikes, he said.