US Forces in Yemen: Trump

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.

10years11months10days
Length of Campaign
since December, 2009
181
Declared US actions in Yemen since January 20, 2017
41
Alleged civilian casualty incidents assessed since January 20, 2017

Airwars estimate of civilian deaths

86–154

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 26 separate alleged incidents.

28–32 children likely killed
13–18 women likely killed
30–38 likely injured
87 named victims

US Forces estimate of civilian deaths

4–12

Confirmed civilian deaths, from US Forces actions in Yemen, originating from 2 separate incidents of civilian harm.

2 civilians confirmed injured

Alleged deaths 121–194

Locally reported civilian deaths from US Forces actions in Yemen.

41 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.
86–154

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

26 separate alleged incidents

Weak
Weak: Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
27–29

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

11 separate alleged incidents

Contested
Contested: Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
8–11

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

4 separate alleged incidents

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

Civilian deaths were Discounted by Airwars after assessment.

0 separate alleged incidents

Reported civilian deaths from US Forces strikes in Yemen

Due to large variations in the quality of reporting, Airwars provisionally grades allegations of civilian harm using a standardised methodology across all belligerents and conflicts. The five categories are explained in full on our Methodology page. Individual events are recorded in the Civilian Casualties pages.

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Credit: Airwars Graphic
Source: Airwars

Militant deaths per year in Yemen

During the Trump presidency, the United States primarily targeted alleged fighters from two main terror networks operating in Yemen: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Islamic State in Yemen. While declared US actions are often accompanied by an official estimate of militants killed, local reporting may indicate differing claims, resulting in a fatality range.

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Declared and alleged US actions in Yemen

US actions in Yemen are carried out both by US Central Command (CENTCOM) and by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). While CENTCOM publicly declares some of its actions, others remain secret. CIA strikes are officially neither confirmed nor denied. In addition, there are some actions in Yemen where the belligerent is presently contested (eg possibly by the UAE), or unknown.

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