A reported US drone strike targeted a minibus in Al Rawda neighbourhood, in the Wadi Ubaida area of Marib governorate, on the afternoon of August 3rd 2017. Several sources suggested that the strike targeted AQAP militants in the bus, killing three, though others indicated that as many as two civilians were killed and four injured, reportedly including two children.
An on-the-ground reporter indicated to Reprieve that a drone strike had hit a bus filled with people, killing two children and a third badly-burned person who could not be identified. Reprieve shared their findings on this strike with Airwars. CENTCOM confirmed to Reprieve that it did conduct a strike in Marib on August 3rd; since there were no other known reported strikes on that day, this event is treated as declared.
According to an Al-Masdar Online correspondent at the scene, the strike targeted the bus while it was parked outside a house, killing the driver and injuring two of his children (both of whom were inside the house at the time), with shrapnel. Reported photos of the scene also indicated that the vehicle was destroyed while parked outside a house.
Al-Masdar also reported that no information was available about the dead man, making it unclear whether he was a civilian or belligerent.
Al Araby reported that “at least one” suspected AQAP militant was killed in the strike, possibly referring to the driver of the bus. Others suggested that three alleged AQAP militants were killed in the strike.
One source, Belqees, suggested that two civilians were killed and four injured by the “remnants of a ballistic missile” intercepted over Marib city, rather than a drone strike, according to “witnesses”. However, images of the destroyed vehicle indicated that it had been directly targeted.
To reflect these competing claims, Airwars has assessed that a minimum of two civilians were injured in the blast, reflecting the reports of injured children, with a maximum of four. A minimum of one reported civilian death has been set, to reflect the possibility that the driver was a civilian, with a maximum of three, including two children. A minimum of one militant death has been set, with a maximum of three.
In its May 2018 annual civilian casualty report, the US Department of Defense stated that “there were credible reports of civilian casualties caused by U.S. military actions in Yemen against AQAP and ISIS during 2017”, but did not specify which specific actions these reports referred to. Overall, the Department of Defense assessed that there were credible reports of “approximately 499 civilians killed and approximately 169 civilians injured during 2017”, as a result of US military actions in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
Responding to Airwars’ publication of its Yemen dataset and accompanying report in October 2020, CENTCOM dismissed all but two civilian harm claims under President Trump, asserting that “USCENTCOM conducted a thorough review of the information AirWars provided regarding allegations of potential civilian harm caused by USCENTCOM strikes in Yemen from 2017-2020… The bulk of the information asserted by AirWars, however, did not correspond with dates and locations of U.S. military strikes or raids in Yemen. Other AirWars allegations either did not allege civilian harm or were not assessed as credible upon our review.”
The incident occured in the afternoon.
Sources (30) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the Al Rawda (الروضة) neighbourhood, east of the city of Marib (مأرب). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Rawda neighbourhood are: 15.448647, 45.345697.
US Forces Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Nov 5, 2020
Via email: U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) continues to focus on ways to minimize civilian casualties during its military operations. We assess or review all reports of civilian casualties because such assessments or reviews help us identify ways to improve our operations and counter misinformation and propaganda. We routinely share the results of every one of our assessments in Department of Defense (DoD) reports to Congress, including annual reports, many of which are publicly available. We also share the results of our assessments or reviews with the public via the USCENTCOM website and our statements to the media. Individuals wishing to understand U.S. military operations in Yemen more fully should consult these official sources of information. USCENTCOM conducted a thorough review of the information AirWars provided regarding allegations of potential civilian harm caused by USCENTCOM strikes in Yemen from 2017-2020. Of the information AirWars provided, one strike on September 14, 2017, was assessed to have caused injuries to two civilians. Also, as previously released by USCENTCOM to the public in February 2017, USCENTCOM acknowledged there may have been civilian casualties during a raid on January 29, 2017. The bulk of the information asserted by AirWars, however, did not correspond with dates and locations of U.S. military strikes or raids in Yemen. Other AirWars allegations either did not allege civilian harm or were not assessed as credible upon our review. Consistent with our mission, our authorities, and our obligations under the law of war, USCENTCOM will continue to conduct military actions in Yemen when required to protect the Nation and our allies and partners from al Qa’ida and ISIS terror cells that are committed to inflicting terror. In every strike and raid, we take careful measures to minimize civilian harm and take responsibility for our actions. When our military operations result in reports of civilian harm, we will continue to assess the credibility of such reports to help us identify ways to improve our operations and respond as appropriate.