A US airstrike targeted an AQAP training camp in western Hadramout governorate on April 11th 2018, according to a later US Central Command statement.
There were multiple local reports at the time of airstrikes against AQAP in the mountainous Al Sout area of western Hadramout at dawn on that day, though most sources assigned responsibility to the Saudi-led Coalition. Only one source gave information on casualties; ESISC (@EsiscTeam) tweeted that a US drone strike killed “several” terrorists. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
Alleged images of the area appeared to indicate at least three distinct strike locations; a local source told Al-Arabi that four explosions were heard. According to local-language news outlets, including Al-Mashhad Al-Yemeni and Al-Arabi, as well as a number of social media sources, drones or warplanes targeted AQAP in the Al Sout area, which reportedly lies between Wadi Amad and Wadi Rakhiya.
Eyewitnesses told TVAden that they believed the planes to be American, and other sources, such as @barakish_net, assigned responsibility for the strikes to the US. Others, such as Akhbar Al-Aan, however, suggested that warplanes of the Saudi-led Coalition conducted the strikes, or indicated that the belligerent was unknown. AQAP forces were reportedly active in the targeted area, according to multiple sources, having been forced out of nearby districts.
A US Central Command spokesperson later told the Long War Journal that two strikes were carried out on April 11th 2018 in Hadramout; it is possible that both of these strikes were part of this event, or that they constituted unique events. USYEMTr161 has therefore been created to account for the latter possibility.
The incident occured around dawn.
Sources (20) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention strikes in Al Sout (السوط) an area allegedly at the division between Wadi Rakhya (وادي رخية) and Wadi Amd (وادي عمد), within the respective districts of Rakhya (رخية) and Amd (عمد), Hadramout (حضرموت) governorate. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the northern area of contact between the borders are: 15.499908, 47.905719.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
TAMPA, Fla. – In the past three months, U.S. forces have targeted and disrupted the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist network in Yemen through 17 counter-terrorism airstrikes in four separate governorates. These include six air strikes against AQAP terrorists in February, seven air strikes against AQAP terrorists in March and four airstrikes against AQAP terrorists in April.
The April airstrikes included an AQAP training camp in western Hadramawt governorate April 11 and an AQAP checkpoint for asserting regional control and raising illegal revenue in al Bayda governorate April 23.
Other air strikes took place in al Bayda, Hadramawt, Zamakh and Shabwah governorates.
U.S. Central Command is aware of reports of alleged civilian casualties following the March 29 air strike against AQAP in al Bayda governorate. A credibility assessment is being conducted.
Intelligence and defense communities have assessed AQAP as one of the terrorist groups most committed to and capable of conducting attacks in the United States. AQAP has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against the United States, its citizens and its allies around the world.
In early 2018, senior AQAP figure Khalid Batarfi called on the group’s supporters to “rise and attack” Americans “everywhere.” Last month, Osama Bin Laden’s son Hamza, an influential al-Qaeda figure, called on aspiring terrorists to join and support AQAP’s terrorist efforts in Yemen.
The United States is committed to finding and striking AQAP’s terrorist network in Yemen.
“In coordination with the government of Yemen, U.S. forces are conducting a series of counter-terrorism operations against AQAP and ISIS-Yemen,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a U.S. Central Command spokesman. “We will continue to disrupt and degrade the ability of AQAP to plan attacks, confronting threats before they reach our borders.”