Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEMTr122-C

Incident date

November 26, 2017

Location

قيفه, Qifah, Al Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.449335, 44.817596 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Three ISIS militants were killed by a US strike in Al Bayda governorate on November 26th 2017, a US Central Command spokesperson told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. This confirmed earlier reports that a US drone strike had taken place in Qayfa in Al Bayda governorate on that night.

However several local sources and news agencies indicated that the attack had instead killed at least three civilians.

Al-Masdar Online reported that, according to local residents, the US strike killed three civilians in the Aqaba Zaaj area of Qayfa. The dead were named as Salman Salem Al-Amri, Fadl Ali Al-Tisi and Dahan Saleh Al-Tisi, and residents denied to Al-Masdar that any were affiliated with AQAP or ISIS.

Another Twitter source, @FuadRajeh, suggested that an official had reported five children killed by an “indiscriminate” US drone strike in the Yakla area.  One other Twitter source simply reported “civilian casualties” from an American strike in Bayda.

Other sources suggested that three militants were killed in the attack, though indicated that they were affiliated with AQAP rather than ISIS.  According to AFP, three men “known for their ties to Al-Qaeda” were killed while travelling in a car in the area, named as Fadl Tissi, Han Tissi, and Sultan Amri. A local government official reportedly told Al-Arabi that “the raid targeted a car belonging to [AQAP] late Sunday night while it was passing on a secondary road in one of the areas of the province”.

A pro-AQAP channel later confirmed that the three killed were militants, according to one English-language Twitter source, @demolinari.  @demolinari also suggested that images of the dead showed one in camouflage and an ammunition vest, though the described images could not be found by Airwars.

Gulf News reported, in an article that appears to have been updated on November 28th 2017, that five civilians, “mainly farmers”, were killed in the course of “three separate air strikes” in the Qayfa area during that week. This reported civilian casualty event likely accounts for at least one of the reported strikes, alongside event USYEMTr120-C.

Gulf News reported that recent US drone strikes in the area had “displaced residents and caused panic”. “The air strikes have caused great panic among civilians,” the activist told Gulf News. “The targeted areas have no functioning schools or hospitals.”

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 during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 5
  • (5 children)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention strikes within the area of Qifah (قيفه), north of Rada’a (رداع) town, for which the generic coordinates are: 14.449335, 44.817596. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention strikes within the area of Qifah (قيفه), north of Rada’a (رداع) town.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

United States Armed Forces
  • 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.

Original strike reports

United States Armed Forces

Jess,

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.

MAJ Brown
CENTCOM Media Operations

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 5
  • (5 children)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected targets
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS - Yemen
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3

Sources (16) [ collapse]