US Forces in Yemen

Mabkhout Ali al Ameri with his 18-month old son Mohammed, shortly after a botched US raid on al Ghayil in January 2017 had killed at least 20 villagers, including Mohammed's mother Fatim Saleh Mohsen. © Iona Craig

The United States conducted its first targeted assassination by drone outside the hot battlefield in November 2002 in Marib province, killing five reported members of Al Qaeda. However US counterterrorism operations did not begin in earnest until 2009, prompted by the founding of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The Obama Administration’s controversial campaign – which saw airstrikes by both the US military and the CIA – managed to suppress but not destroy AQAP, which continued to mount ambitious extraterritorial acts of terrorism. US counterterrorism strikes were expanded in October 2017 to include the local ISIS franchise.

Overall, more than 500 US airstrikes have been locally claimed in Yemen since 2009, resulting in several hundred locally documented civilian deaths. Airwars’ Yemen data, which incorporates earlier monitoring work by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, presently focuses on US actions from 2017 onwards under President Donald Trump – and will shortly be expanded to include all known US strikes in Yemen since 2002. Reviews of reported US counterterrorism actions along with any associated civilian harm claims can be accessed either via our interactive mapping and timeline, or via the ‘US Strikes & Civilian Casualties’ tab above.

Length of Campaign
since December, 2009
Declared US actions in Yemen since January 20, 2017
Alleged civilian casualty incidents assessed
since January 20, 2017

Airwars estimate of civilian deaths


Locally reported civilian deaths from declared or likely US Forces actions in Yemen for which the reporting was assessed by Airwars as Fair, or have been Confirmed by US Forces. These originate from 28 separate alleged incidents.

25–34 children likely killed
11–19 women likely killed
28–45 likely injured
91 named victims

US Forces estimate of civilian deaths


Confirmed civilian deaths, from US Forces actions in Yemen, originating from 3 separate incidents of civilian harm.

2 civilians confirmed injured

Alleged deaths 122–210

Locally reported civilian deaths from US Forces actions in Yemen.

47 separate alleged incidents

Confirmed or fair
Confirmed: A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
Fair: Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.

Civilian deaths for which the reporting was assessed by Airwars as Fair, or have been Confirmed by US Forces.

28 separate alleged incidents

Weak: Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.

Civilian deaths for which the reporting was assessed by Airwars as Weak.

10 separate alleged incidents

Contested: Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.

Civilian deaths for which the reporting is assessed by Airwars as Contested.

9 separate alleged incidents

Discounted: Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.

Civilian deaths were Discounted by Airwars after assessment.

0 separate alleged incidents