Three alleged AQAP militants, including at least one leadership figure, were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Bayda governorate on March 30th 2019. Though most suggested that the strike took place in Sama’a district, two sources, including Xinhua, instead located the strike in the Anah or Tayeb area of Dhi Naseem district.
Sources, including Huna Al-Bayda, News Yemen, and Al-Masdar Online, named those killed as Abu Ammar Al-Hadrami, Mohammed Salem Umqaida Abu Yusuf Al-Fahtani, and Abu Abdul Ilah al-Mantheri. Xinhua suggested that others were injured in the strike. As such, Airwars has assessed that a minimum of two militants were reportedly injured.
Huna Al-Bayda described Al-Hadrami as an AQAP mufti and leader, who “issued fatwas to authorise crimes and carry out terrorist operations”. Al-Fahtani was reported by one source, Yaqeen Online, to be a Saudi national, though others suggested he was from the Ambqria area of Mudiya district, in Abyan governorate. Al-Mantheri was alleged to be from Sama’a district in Bayda; Huna Al-Bayda described him as AQAP’s emir in Mudiya district. Sources variously suggested that at least one and as many as all of those killed were leadership figures in AQAP.
According to academic Dr Elisabeth Kendall, AQAP stated that a US drone had targeted its fighters on March 30th, who were battling Islamic State in Bayda governorate at the time. While most reported that the targets were AQAP militants, some initial local-language social media responses, from accounts such as @kyanalyamani51, suggested that the strike had targeted “ISIS-funded” militants.
The US did not publicly report a strike on March 30th, though a CENTCOM spokesperson told New America that two strikes (listed by Airwars as USYEMTr196 and USYEMTr195) took place in Bayda on March 29th. Since no other sources reported strikes on the 29th, it is possible that one or both of these declared strikes were part of this event. However all local sources were quite clear that this incident occurred on Saturday March 30th. It therefore remains possible that this was either a CIA or Saudi-led Coalition action.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (30) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the Al Suma’a District (مديرية الصومعة) for which the generic coordinates are: 14.166667, 45.831111. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
Our Yemen strikes data has been updated for individualized dates after CENTCOM responded to an inquiry on the eight strikes in 2019. Strikes were as follows: 1/1, 1/21, 3/25, 3/25, 3/26, 3/28, 3/29, and 3/29. All but 1/1 in al Bayda'