A US drone strike reportedly killed at least two alleged AQAP militants, including a leadership figure, in Raidan village, in the Al Kanaes area of Marib governorate, on November 1st 2019. One source, @AlkaramaHR, instead appeared to suggest that those killed were civilians, unaffiliated with AQAP.
On January 2nd 2020, US Central Command told New America that no strikes had been conducted since 24th June 2019, but that an investigation was nevertheless ongoing into this alleged action. It is possible that this was instead a CIA action, or was a clandestine US military action.
The Alkarama Foundation (@AlkaramaHR), a human rights group, indicated in a tweet at the time that “two Yemenis” were killed by the strike, and condemned “extrajudicial killings”, possibly indicating that those killed were civilians.
All other known sources, however, reported that the dead were AQAP members. Local and tribal sources told Yemen Press Agency and Al-Masdar Online that Khamis bin Arfaj was killed along with his brother, Turki bin Arfaj, as they drove through the area. These sources indicated that both were suspected AQAP.
One Twitter source, @ahmadsaeede326, shared a screen-capture of a Facebook post, which stated that Saleh Afraj was an “important leader of the National Army in Marib”, and had been killed by a US drone strike. The original Facebook source could not be found by Airwars. Given this, it is possible that one of those killed was a member of the Yemeni military.
Some local language Twitter sources, such as @ben_ataf, simply indicated that Khamis and his “companions” were killed in the strike, possibly indicating a militant death toll of at least three. Though most reported that the strike targeted a car, @South24_net indicated that an AQAP “gathering” was bombed.
According to Al-Mashhad Al-Yemeni, Khamis bin Arfaj was a “prominent” leader in AQAP, and a close friend of Anwar Al-Awlaki prior to his death in a 2011 US drone strike. Local sources told the outlet that Khamis and Turki were both members of the Al-Marwan tribe, from Al-Jawf governorate.
In its annual civilian casualty report for Congress issued in April 2019, the US Department of Defense stated that, as of March 1st 2020, it had assessed “no credible reports of civilian casualties resulting from US military actions in Yemen during 2019”. The report also asserted that US Central Command had not received “any reports from IOs or NGOs regarding potential civilian casualties caused by U.S. military action in Yemen in 2019”.
The incident was first reported on November 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm by .
Sources (38) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the village or area of Raidan (ريدان), allegedly in the vicinity of Jabal Al Kanaes (جبل الكنائس), in the desert north of Ma’rib (مارب) city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Jabal Al Kaneas are: 15.76963, 45.40988.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
On January 2, in response to an email inquiry, CENTCOM reiterated June 24th as the last CENTCOM strike in Yemen and said an investigation is ongoing into an alleged 11/1 strike reported by Xinhua