Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEMTr102-C

Incident date

September 14, 2017

Location

القوز, Al Qawz junction, Abyan, Yemen

Geolocation

13.908586, 46.137140 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Street level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Street

Airwars assessment

A US drone strike killed at least two alleged AQAP militants on a motorcycle at Al Qawz junction, Mudiyah district of Abyan governorate, on the night of September 14th 2017. However it was also reported that a passing vehicle was damaged, causing civilian injuries.

More than three years later, in response to Airwars publishing its Yemen findings, CENTCOM confirmed that two civilians had been injured in the event.

A local security official and residents told Reuters at the time that three suspected militants were killed in the strike.  According to one source, this was also reported to Xinhua, though the original Xinhua report could not be found.

One Twitter source, @demolinari, instead suggested that two militants were killed in the strike, and named those killed as local AQAP leader Ali Saleh Al-Buhaith Al-Fathani and Haritha Al-Waqari.

@demolinari also reported that a passing vehicle was damaged, causing injuries.  As such, Airwars has assessed that at least one civilian was reportedly injured in the strike.

On November 5th 2020, CENTCOM confirmed that it had injured two civilians in this incident, noting that “Of the information AirWars provided, one strike on September 14, 2017, was assessed to have caused  injuries to two civilians.”

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.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • 'Ali Saleh al-Fathani along with his companions killed in a US airstrike in Abyan. They were in a motorcycle in the al-Qoz in eastern Moudiya'
  • According to one Twitter source, alleged AQAP militant Harithah al-Waqari was one of those killed in a reported US drone strike on September 14th 2017 in Abyan (@demolinari, September 16th 2017).
  • According to one Twitter source, alleged AQAP leader Ali Al-Buhaith was one of those killed in a reported US drone strike on September 14th 2017 in Abyan (@demolinari, September 16th 2017).

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck at the junction near Al Qawz (القوز) village, east of Mudiyah (موديه). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the Al Qawz junction are: 13.908586, 46.137140.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck at the junction near Al Qawz (القوز) village, east of Mudiyah (موديه).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    2

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • Nov 5, 2020
  • 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.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–3

Sources (8) [ collapse]