Up to eight civilians and three militants, variously alleged to be ISIS or AQAP, were reportedly killed by a series of US drone strikes in or near to Sirar Jusham, Qayfa area of Al Bayda governorate, on the afternoon of November 30th 2017.
A Yemeni government source told Anatolia Agency that three of four overall strikes – “likely American” – had targeted civilian areas “which are known to have nothing to do with terrorist organisations”, killing seven civilians. According to this source, a fourth strike targeted an ISIS vehicle, killing three alleged militants.
Two sources, @Yembreaking and Al-Masdar Online, instead suggested that eight civilians and three ISIS militants had died. A local source told Al-Masdar Online that the eight civilians were from the area, and had no ties to either AQAP or ISIS. According to Al-Arabi, there were dead and wounded among both militants and civilians, including women and children. Khabar Agency further indicated that “injuries” were reported among AQAP militants.
Other sources stated that a total of six strikes had targeted the area. Journalist Mareb Alward (@mareb_alward) tweeted that four strikes were conducted against AQAP sites and vehicles in Hama Sirar village, while two had targeted civilians, resulting in “casualties”.
Given these reports, Airwars has assessed that between seven and eight civilians were likely killed, including at least one woman and at least one child. At least two civilians were also injured, also including at least one woman a child. Three militant deaths were additionally reported by sources, as well as at least two militant injuries.
Some local sources, including @belqeesTV, suggested that the strikes were launched by as many as three US drones. Locals told Al-Arabi that the drones bombed a number of homes and farms in the area. Others also indicated that attacks took place against vehicles and militant in gathering places, though sources disagreed as to whether the strikes targeted AQAP or ISIS. Both terror groups had previously been targeted in the Qayfa area. A local source told Al-Masdar Online that one strike targeted a vehicle carrying explosives, leading to continuing explosions after the initial strike.
In addition, Nashwan News and Twitter user @amerAlhamiqaniu suggested that at least one strike may have destroyed an ambulance.
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 (26) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a strike on a garage in or on the outskirts of Sirar Jusham (صرار الجشم) village. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Sirar Jusham are: 14.552681, 44.820786.
United States Armed 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.