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.
Mwatana later named the two women victims as “Hajera Ahmed Saleh Al Taisi, about 33 years old, and Dhabia Ahmad Al Taisi, about 63 years old. Hajera was pregnant at the time of her death.”
On January 10th 2018, a US Central Command statement confirmed that a strike took place in Bayda on December 15th, 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.”
In its March 2021 report, Death Falling From The Sky, the Yemeni human rights group said that two named women had died in the attack – one of them pregnant. According to the report, “On the day of the strike, Dhabia was visiting Hajera’s home, about 90 meters from Dhabia’s own small house. At about 6:00 p.m., as Dhabia was leaving the house, the strike occurred. The strike hit right next to the entrance of the house, killing Dhabia, who was standing by the door. Hajera was in her kitchen. She was hit by shrapnel in the neck, which ripped through her back. The surrounding homes suffered varying degrees of damage from the strike.”
The report went on to note: “After the strike, people rushed to the house to help. Dhabia’s son, about 35 years old, was in his house nearby and rushed to the site. His mother was dead. He tried to gather her remains. Hajera’s husband, who was in another part of the house at the time of the strike, also rushed to help, discovering his wife gravely wounded. He tried to move Hajera to the hospital, but she died on the way. Her young son, about nine-years-old, was with her. Her husband told Mwatana, ‘My wife was expecting a child; the shrapnel killed her and her fetus … Today, the drone hit us. The life of people and their movements are almost paralyzed by fear.’”
The incident occured at approximately 7:45 pm local time.
The victims were named as:
Family members (2)
Sources (17) [ collapse]
from sources (2) [ collapse]
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.
US 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.
Original strike reports
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.
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