In a statement, US Central Command said that airstrikes in Bayda governorate had killed five AQAP militants, including alleged Shabwa governorate leader Mujahid al-Adani, on November 20th 2017. This confirmed local reports that a US drone strike had killed at least three alleged AQAP militants in Yakla in the Wald Rabi area, overnight from November 20th-21st. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
According to CENTCOM statements, “al-Bayda-based facilitator Abu Layth al-Sanaani” was the second “high-value target” killed in the strike, in addition to al-Adani. AKA Mohammad Shukri, al-Adani was “a senior leader responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against Yemeni, Coalition and tribal security forces… and previously served as an AQAP military leader in Aden”.
On January 9th 2018, a further CENTCOM statement asserted that “Abu Umar al-Sana’ani, an AQAP Dawah committee member”, was killed on November 20th in al-Bayda governorate. Since no other strikes were reported on this day, it is likely that this report referred to this event. It was unclear, however, whether the report was a reference to Abu Layth al-Sanaani by another name, or another person killed.
Multiple sources, including @demolinari and Al-Arabi, further named one of those killed as Hudhaifa al-Awlaqi, additionally to al-Adani and Abu Layth al-Sanaani. Though most suggested that four had been killed, Al-Arabi, Russia Today Arabic, and some other sources, indicated that three militants had died.
One news source, Gulf News, suggested that, according to a local activist, six militants had died when a US drone launched at least two missiles at their car on this date. Several news sources, such as Al Sahwah and Aden al-Hadath, suggested that a Yemeni local official told AFP that the car was bombed on a mountain road. The original AFP report could not however be found.
Most sources also indicated that the strike targeted a car in the area, killing all inside, and variously reported that it took place either late on the 20th or early on the 21st November.
The incident occured during the night.
Sources (24) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the village of Yakla (يكلا), within the Ould Rabi district (بمديرية ولد ربيع). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Yakla are: 14.598056, 45.060000.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. airstrikes killed five al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 20 in an effort to disrupt AQAP attack networks.
Mujahid al-Adani, an AQAP Shabwah leader, was killed in the strikes, along with al-Bayda-based facilitator Abu Layth al-Sanaani and three AQAP associates.
Al-Adani, also known as Mohammad Shukri, previously served as an AQAP military leader in Aden and remained responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against Yemeni and coalition forces. Al-Adani maintained a significant influence within AQAP as well as close ties to other AQAP senior leaders.
The Shabwah offensive has forced AQAP to consolidate within the northern and eastern portions of the Abyan and eastern Al-Bayda Governorates respectively.
The removal of key AQAP leaders and associates in this region will further degrade AQAP’s freedom of movement and operation, limiting their ability to challenge Yemeni security forces and coalition advances.