Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

USYEMTr124-C

Incident date

December 15, 2017

Location

يكلا‎, Yakla, Bayda, Yemen

Geolocation

14.598056, 45.060000 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

At least two women, and possibly two children, all from the same family, were reportedly killed by a US drone strike on a house in Yakla, in the Wald Rabi area of Bayda governorate, on the evening of December 15th 2017.

On January 10th 2018, a US Central Command statement confirmed that a strike took place in Bayda on this day, and indicated that it had resulted in the death of AQAP “external operations facilitator” Miqdad al-Sana’ani. It made no mention of civilian harm.

Two sources, Yemen Shabab and @marib_alward, stated that at least two women were killed, and other civilians injured, in the attack. As the former noted [translation]: “Private local sources told Yemen Shabab Net, that at least two women were killed about half an hour previous to now, in an American drone airstrike in the area of ​​Yakla, in the Directorate of Ould Rabee, affiliated to Qayfah, in Al Bayda Governorate. The sources confirmed that the raid targeted a house inhabited by two civilians in the area, which resulted in the death of two women and the injury of others, whose identity and number have not been known until now.”

Reprieve shared their findings on this event with Airwars, suggesting that two women were killed alongside a male doctor affiliated with AQAP. Reprieve suggested that this doctor was potentially Miqdad al-Sana’ani.

Other local-language Twitter sources, including @SUHFNET and @ataqpress, reported that a family of three women and two children were killed.

Bar Reprieve, no known sources corroborated CENTCOM’s claim that Miqdad al-Sana’ani, an alleged militant, was killed in the strike. However several sources mentioned that the identity of some victims was unknown. Since there were no other known reports of a US strike on December 15th, this event is treated as declared.

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 at approximately 7:45 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 5
  • (2 children2–3 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Yakla (يكلا‎), within the Wald 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:

  • 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

U.S. air strikes kill senior AQAP militants
TAMPA, Fla. – U.S. air strikes in Yemen recently resulted in the death of key Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders.

U.S. forces continue sustained counterterrorism operations in Yemen against AQAP and ISIS, in coordination with the Government of Yemen, to degrade these groups’ ability to hold territory and coordinate external attacks.

External operations facilitator Miqdad al Sana’ani was killed in an air strike Dec. 15 in al-Bayda governorate.

Habib al-Sana’ani, AQAP deputy arms facilitator, who was an intermediary with ties to senior AQAP leadership and was responsible for facilitating the movement of weapons, explosives and finances into northern Marib and al-Bayda governorates, was killed in an airstrike Dec. 19 in Marib governorate.

Abu Umar al-Sana’ani, an AQAP Dawah committee member, was killed in an air strike Nov. 20 in al-Bayda governorate.
-30-

Follow CENTCOM on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 5
  • (2 children2–3 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (16) [ collapse]