A US strike killed seven AQAP militants in Shabwa governorate on November 25th 2017, a US Central Command spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. This confirmed earlier local reports that a US drone strike had killed at least three alleged AQAP militants in a Wadi, in the Merkhat Al Olya district of Shabwa, on that evening. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
Sources reported various overall death tolls as a result of the strike. Initial reporting by Al-Masdar Online suggested that, according to a local source, three militants were killed, though most later reports suggested that five to seven had died. One source, @demolinari, gave an initial figure of three, but later updated the tally to five. AFP reported that, according to a security official, the strike targeted three vehicles, killing seven. A local-language source, Voice Yemen, reported a death toll of eight militants, though no other known sources gave this figure.
To account for these varying reports, Airwars has assessed that between five and eight alleged militants were reportedly killed in this strike.
After the strike, academic Dr Elisabeth Kendall tweeted that pro-AQAP sources had named the dead as ‘Amar al-Hamiqani, Humam al-Baydani, Abu M. al-Baydani, BaHila al-Waqqari al-Abyani, Abu Sa’d al-Yazidi al-Abyani. Some suggested that the strike was intended to kill an AQAP leadership figure.
The US attack was variously reported to have targeted between one and three cars, though alleged images of the site only showed one vehicle. One local source told Al-Masdar Online that the car was transporting weapons for the group, while others suggested that the vehicles were travelling to Bayda governorate.
According to Xinhua, a tribal chief said that “a drone kept hovering for hours and then struck a car carrying five al-Qaida operatives in Markhah area of Shabwa… The vehicle was completely destroyed and none of the citizens approached the scene to see, for fear of new air bombings”. Some claimed that the drone had signalled with lights to warn locals away from the site of the strike.
The incident occured in the evening.
Sources (27) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck within Wadi Merkhat (وادي مركة) in the Merkhat al Olya (مرخة العليا) district. However, @ExeIntelUZ reports this strike occurring west of Merkhat Al Olya, in the vicinity of the highway connecting the governorate of Shabwa (شبوة) to Al Bayda (البيضة). Since research does not show whether Wadi Merkhat exists, or whether it is located in that area, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the alleged location are: 14.589742, 45.644669.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
This is the most current CENTCOM information on strikes against AQAP and ISIS in Yemen.
· One strike against ISIS in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 26. killing three terrorists.
· One strike against AQAP in Shabwah Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 25 killing seven terrorists.
· One strike against ISIS in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 23, killing two terrorists.
· Two strikes against AQAP in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen, Nov. 19-20. The strikes killed two AQAP terrorists Nov. 19 and five terrorists on Nov 20.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
CENTCOM Media Operations