Four alleged AQAP militants were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in Wadi Obeidah, Marib governorate, overnight from May 6th-7th 2019.
On May 15th 2019, US Central Command told New America that no strikes had taken place since March 29th, and explicitly denying reports of a May 5th US military strike, which may refer to this event. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
Multiple missiles reportedly targeted a small passenger bus or truck, passing between the Al-Ramsa and Al-Hazma areas, according to local-language news outlets, including 7Hadramout, Al-Ain, and Shabwa Press. Sources indicated to AFP and others that the vehicle was heading to a farm in the governorate. A security source told Al-Ain that there were successive explosions from the scene, indicating that the bus may have been transporting weapons and ammunition.
Most claimed that the strike took place on May 7th. One source, Maeen Press, instead suggested a time late on the evening of May 6th. Indeed, the earliest identified tweet relating to this event was at 12.26am local time on May 7th. As such, Airwars has assessed that the strike took place at some time overnight from March 6th to March 7th.
On May 8th, an AQAP feed claimed that a militant named Habib Al-Jadawi was killed by a “Crusader” drone strike, likely referring to a recent strike, according to Dr Elisabeth Kendall (@Dr_E_Kendall). Given that this was the only known reported US strike since mid-April, it is possible that Al-Jadawi was one of those allegedly killed in this event.
Despite CENTCOM’s denial, this event may have been either a CIA or Saudi-led Coalition action.
The incident occured during the night.
Sources (40) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck between the villages of Al Hazma (الحزمة) and Al Rasma (الرمسة), within the Wadi Obeida (وادي عبيدة) area, east of Marib (مأرب) city. Research shows two locations known as Al Hazma within the vicinity. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Wadi Obeida are: 15.512300, 45.396140.
US Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
On May 15, 2019, United States Central Command (CENTCOM) responded to an inquiry from New America about the number and dates of any counterterrorism strikes in Yemen in April 2019 by stating that it had conducted no strikes in April. LTC Earl Brown told New America, “The last U.S. Military strike in Yemen was on 29 March.”
CENTCOM also specifically denied conducting a May 5th strike in Marib, Yemen that had been reported as a suspected U.S. drone strike by AFP citing a “security official in the area.” As previously argued in Just Security, the proliferating number of actors armed with drones along with the difficulties of reporting from Yemen and likely covert U.S. strikes (which would not be acknowledged or carried out by CENTCOM) makes it difficult to assess whether a U.S. drone strike occurred that day or whether it was another actor.