A US drone strike reportedly killed an alleged AQAP leadership figure in the Arqoub area of Abyan governorate, on May 16th 2020. There were no known associated reports of civilian harm.
Local sources told Yemen Press Agency that a May 16th strike had targeted AQAP leader Saad Al-Atiqi Al-Awlaki: “An American drone strike on Saturday [May 16th] targeted a senior al-Qaeda leader who was fighting with Saudi-led coalition forces in Abyan province, southern Yemen. Local sources in the province told Yemen Press Agency that US aircraft targeted the al-Qaeda leading member Saad al-Atiqi al-Awlaqi in the Aqaba area, between Laudar district in Abyan and Mokiras district in Bayda province, while [he was] participating in the fighting alongside coalition forces against the Yemeni army and popular committees in Mokiras front.”
Others, such as Aden Press, further suggested that Al-Awlaki had been killed in the strike. AQAP fighters have previously been reported to have fought alongside and integrated into pro-government militant groups.
Some, including News Yemen and Sama Press, instead indicated that the strike took place on May 17th. Witnesses told News Yemen that an “unidentified reconnaissance plane” had flown over the Arqoub mountains earlier on the 17th.
US Central Command told Airwars that no US military strikes were conducted in Yemen during May 2020. It is, however, possible that an undeclared strike was conducted by the CIA, or as part of a clandestine US military operation.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (23) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the vicinity of the Arqoub (زنجبار) area, for which the generic coordinates are:13.468889, 45.763889. 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
According to an email from CENTCOM to Airwars, there were no US military strikes during May 2020 in Yemen.