The timeline below contains information on all US drone and air strikes and other covert actions in Yemen recorded by the Bureau in 2017. Many of the strikes listed below have been confirmed by senior US or Yemeni officials. However some events are only speculatively attributed to the US, or are indicative of US involvement. We therefore class all strikes in Yemen as either “confirmed” or “possible”. The US has also launched strikes with other weapons systems, including conventional jet aircraft and cruise missiles. The Bureau records these operations as “additional US attacks”.
Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. The information below represents our present best estimate.
The US conducted its first known drone strike outside of Afghanistan in Yemen in 2002. The second attack in the country did not take place for another seven years. Both the Pentagon and CIA have carried out strikes in Yemen from bases in Djibouti and Saudi Arabia. The military strikes are carried out under the command of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command.
The strikes have targeted al Qaeda fighters. The first strike, in 2002, targeted Abu Ali al Harithi - a member of al Qaeda since the 1990s and the leader of the group's presence in Yemen. In 2007 al Qaeda in Yemen and al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia united to form al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This has been the focus of US operations in Yemen since. The strikes have also killed scores of civilians.
The Bureau publishes a narrative timeline of US strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen each year. The 2017 timeline for Yemen is below. Links for all other timelines can be found here.
We also publish spreadsheets detailing casualty numbers in each country. You can download the entire Yemen sheet here.
|Confirmed drone strikes||Possible drone strikes||Additional US attacks|
|Total reported strikes||10-12||0||80|
|Total reported killed||22-35||0||59-85|
|Civilians reported killed||0-8||0||30-32|
|Children reported killed||0||0||10-13|
|Total reported injured||0||0||12-13|
16 June 2017
- 2-3 reported killed
A US strike killed Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, described as the emir for AQAP’s stronghold in Shabwah province, and two of his associates, US Central Command said in a press release.
A US spokesperson had previously told the Bureau two not three members of AQAP had been killed.
The press release described Awlaqi as a senior leader responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against civilians, with significant influence across AQAP's stronghold. He was implicated in planning and leading efforts to exacerbate instability in Southern Yemen, it added.
AP had reported Yemeni officials saying the strike killed an operative close to the al Qaeda leader in Yemen, named Saad al Awlaki. A military source told Xinhua said the brother of Saad Bin Atef, described as the leader of AQAP in Shabwa province, was killed.
The strike was launched on specific intelligence provided by the Yemeni side, Xinhua reported.
Local residents however put the death toll at two. They told Reuters they heard a loud explosion that completely destroyed a vehicle carrying armed people.
Yemeni officials reported a drone hitting a a moving vehicle.
Central Command said the aim of the strike was "to disrupt terrorist compounds, and attack networks in Yemen".
"The US is conducting a series of sustained counterterrorism operations in Yemen against AQAP to degrade the group’s ability to hold territory and coordinate external terror attacks," spokesperson Major Josh T. Jaques said.
23 May 2017
Yemeni officials commenting on the US raid in Marib province on May 23 (more information in the entry above) told AP that bombing had also occurred in Bayda province.
However, a spokesperson for US Central Command said no other US operations, including strikes, had been carried out outside of the raid during that time frame.
- Type of strike: Possible US strike
- Location: Bayda
- References: AP
23 May 2017
- 7-12 reported killed
- 5 civilians reported killed, including 0-1 children
- 5-6 reportedly injured
US special forces conducted a raid on what the US described as an "AQAP associated compound" in Marib province in the early hours of May 23 (Yemen time).
The compound comprised of a few buildings, Pentagon Spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis said, used by AQAP as "a headquarters, a place to meet and plan for external operations and to lead the group”.
The operation marked the first time the US conducted an operation into Marib, he said, and the location was the "deepest the military has gone into Yemen to fight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula".
The raid, involving both "small-arms fire and precision air strikes", killed seven members of AQAP, a US Central Command press release said. It added that the operation was conducted with the support of Yemen's government.
While Davis said the aim was to disrupt AQAP operations, Colonel John Thomas, a Central Command spokesman, told the New York Times the raid aimed to seize potentially important information. It was not an attempt to kill or capture a particular target, Thomas said.
"Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP's disposition, capabilities and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP," the Central Command statement said.
The exact location was not given in the statement, but Yemeni officials told AP that the raid took place in the al Sirim area of Marib province.
AP said helicopters landed in the outskirts of the town of Jouba near al Sirim, which it said was known as one of AQAP's hideouts and has been the target of a series of recent air strikes.
Two unnamed US officials told Reuters that the raid was carried out 40-45 km (25-30 miles) north of the botched January raid, which killed nine children under 13 years of age. A US Navy SEAL also died.
The US officials said that there were no known US casualties in this raid. Colonel Thomas also said there were no indications of US casualties. One of the officials said there had been no immediate reports of civilian casualties.
Iona Craig, a journalist who has spent a considerable amount of time in Yemen, disputed the above, saying five of those killed were tribesmen in a tweet. Craig published an article in The Intercept shortly after. Eyewitness accounts in that claimed five civilians were killed, including one child, and another five were wounded.
The raid involved 40-60 commandos supported by eight or nine attack helicopters and other aircrafts, alongside Emirati forces, according to local residents. The raid allegedly took place al Adhlan, a hamlet in the village of al Khathlah, al Jubah district. US Central Command would not answer whether it had been a joint US-UAE raid, directing us to the Emirati side for more information.
The child was named as 15-year-old Abdullah Saeed Salem al Adhal, reportedly shot as he fled from his home with women and children after Apache helicopters began firing at buildings. His brother told the Intercept, "My little brother Abdullah ran for his life with the other women and children. They killed him as he was running.”
Seven men, guests at a house in the village, were also killed, according to a senior figure in the village. The figure said there had been a long-standing debate regarding locals providing guest-houses for Al Qaeda fighters. These seven could account for the seven AQAP members the US has said it killed.
None of the villagers The Intercept spoke to were aware of any materials or people taken by the commandos during the raid, which contradicts US claims it was undertaken to gather electronic devices for intelligence purposes.
Reprieve, a human rights organisation, also claimed five of the dead were civilians. A further six villagers were seriously injured, it said.
Witnesses told Reprieve that Nasser al-Adhal, a 70-year-old man who was partially blind, was shot when he tried to greet the Navy SEALs, mistaking them for guests. Four others were reportedly killed after an argument started with the soldiers over Nasser's death. Witnesses from the village of Al Jubah identified the four as Al Ghader Saleh Salem Al Adha, Saleh Al Taffa, Yasser Al Taffaf Al Adhel and Shebreen Saeed Salem Al Adhal, Reprieve said.
According to their account, at least two AQAP fighters were killed after engaging in a firefight with the US soldiers, after being alerted to their arrival by gunshots in the village. The Navy SEALs then reportedly left via helicopter.
US Central Command told the Bureau it had received the reports of civilian casualties and was looking into the matter.
- Type of strike: US raid, with air strikes
- Location: Al Sirim area, Marib province
- References: US Central Command press release, Reuters, NBC News, New York Times, AP, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Twitter, Reprieve, The Intercept, US Central Command via email, US Department of Defence news article
29 April 2017
- 4-5 reported killed
US Central Command confirmed a strike had been carried out in Marib province on April 29, targeting four alleged members of AQAP.
There had been reports of a strike hitting Marib, but there was some confusion over the dates. A military official told AFP an early morning drone strike targeted a car transporting arms from Yakla in Bayda province on April 30, the site of the botched US raid in January. The official said the car, which was hit in Marib province, belonged to a local AQAP leader. Five suspected AQAP members were killed, the official added.
Local news site Yemen Ajel also reported a strike hit a car transporting weapons to Marib province, but it did not specify the point of departure. It was also unclear on the date - a drone fired three consecutive missiles at either 22:30 GMT on April 29 or 12:30am local time on April 30, it said, according to Al Jazeera.
AP reported Yemeni tribal and security officials saying four people were killed in a drone strike while also driving a car in Marib. While the report stated they were members of al Qaeda, it also said two of the men were identified as belonging to one of the local tribes and the other two people remained unidentified.
29 April 2017
- 3 reported killed
US forces conducted a strike in Shabwah province on April 29, according to US Central Command. The strike targeted three AQAP fighters, it said.
Reports had surfaced of a possible US strike hitting a car in the province but it could not be confirmed at the time. An unnamed Yemeni security official told AFP that three suspected Al Qaeda members were killed while driving their car in Rawda in Shabwah. While AP mentioned this strike in their reporting of another possible strike, they referenced no sources.
24 April 2017
- Unknown reported killed
US forces have conducted 80 strikes in Yemen since March, Pentagon Spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said on April 24.
“Since February 28, we've conducted more than 80 precision strikes against AQAP militants, infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment, and we'll continue to conduct operations including strikes against known terrorists,” he added.
We had recorded 70 strikes between February 28 and April 2 as a result of earlier comments from Captain Davis. Since April 2, the Bureau had recorded two confirmed strikes. An additional eight strikes have been added to our database.
References: US Department of Defence news article
Below is a list of possible strikes we had recorded since April 2 but had been unable to confirm:
- 2-5 reported killed
AFP reported two possible US drone strikes overnight based on information from military sources, one of which hit a vehicle in Shabwah province. Two suspected fighters were killed, the sources said.
Yemeni security officials also told AP about two suspected US drone strikes. One of these hit Shabwah but the official said this killed five suspected fighters and took place a day earlier. These could be two separate strikes.
However, while a spokesperson for US Central Command confirmed a strike on April 19 in Marib province, they did not confirm that a strike took place in Shabwah on either April 18 or April 19.
- 2 reported killed
Unnamed local security sources told AFP that two suspected al Qaeda fighters were killed in a US drone strike. They were reportedly targeted on the evening of April 7 as they rode a motorbike through Sawmaa area in Bayda province.
This strike is the third reported to have hit a motorcycle in possibly three consecutive days. We have been unable to confirm neither this strike, nor the other two strikes, due to vague sourcing.
- 2-3 reported killed
Reports surfaced that Khattab al Wuhayshi had been killed in a possible US strike. He was identified in the reports as a close relative of the former leader of the Yemen-based al Qaeda branch, Nasir al Wuhayshi.
Xinhua reported that Khattab al Wuhayshi, described as the nephew of Nasir al Wuhayshi, and his bodyguard were killed when a missile fired from a possible US drone hit their motorcycle on the night of April 5 in Bayda province. The source for the information was an unnamed security official. This seems similar to an account of a drone strike hitting a motorbike and killing two men, one being a suspected al Qaeda official, on the same night, but this reportedly happened in Abyan province.
AP reported Yemeni tribal and security officials saying a suspected US strike in Bayda province killed Khattab al Wuhayshi, described as the brother of the late leader, and two others. The strike hit on April 6, it said.
- 1 reported killed
AFP reported an unnamed security official saying a drone strike killed alleged Al-Qaeda provincial official Ahmed Ali Saana while he was riding his motorbike in the town of Khabar al Muraqasha in Abyan province late on April 5.
The sourcing is too vague to confirm this strike and include it in our strike tally as yet.
23 April 2017
- 3-8 reported killed
- 0-8 civilians reported killed
Reports surfaced of a possible US drone strike in Shabwah province on April 23. The strike reportedly targeted members of al Qaeda, with some reports of civilian casualties.
AFP reported a security official saying a possible US drone fired a missile on a vehicle in Al Said area of the province, killing five alleged al Qaeda members. Three civilians who came to their aid were killed when a second missile was fired, according to the official. Earlier, a local official had told AFP that three suspects had been killed.
Asharq al Awsat reported a similar version of events, with a strike killing five al Qaeda suspects and then killing three civilians who ran to the aid of the first victims, also citing security sources. The strike took place in Al Said town, it said.
Residents told Al Masdar that four strikes hit a car belonging to AQAP, but also hit a car carrying civilians nearby. Five alleged fighters were killed, along with three civilians, they said.
A local authority source told Yemen Shabab Net that three civilians were killed in the attack as they were driving near the target vehicle, which reportedly had five members of al Qaeda.
The Intercept spoke to relatives of those killed, who alleged that the men were eating lunch at a security checkpoint. According to Ammar Salim Farid Alawlaqi, a drone strike killed his uncle Mansoor Allahwal Baras, a former Yemeni Army lieutenant in his late thirties, who was chief of the checkpoint. Mansoor's two cousins Nasir and Khalid, both 23, were also reportedly killed. Khalid was on vacation from studies in Malaysia.
The men had been joined by a car of five others before the strike. Alawlaqi said while the five had past links to terrorist groups, they had quit this "movement" two years ago.
Tribal and security officials told the Guardian that a suspected US strike hit a vehicle and killed three alleged al Qaeda operatives, but there was no mention of civilian casualties.
AP said three al Qaeda suspects were killed in a strike in Shabwah while they were driving a car, but a date was not specifically given. No civilian casualties were reported in the AP copy.
US Central Command confirmed a strike took place on that date in Shabwah province. A spokesperson said they were aware of reports of civilian casualty allegations and were looking into them. Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis also confirmed the strike, adding that it was carried out against eight AQAP targets.
Soon after the Pentagon said that one of the dead was Abu Ahmed Al Awlaqi, a "key leader" of the group, according to Fox News. Al Awlaqi reportedly led operations for AQAP in Shabwa province, planned external attacks and coordinated the movement of weapons and explosives for the group.
The relative interviewed by The Intercept however said the man the Pentagon called an AQAP leader was known to him as Muhammad Awad Barasane. He had been a member of AQAP and Islamic State's Yemen branch, but had left both groups, he said.
Following the Intercept piece, we followed up with US Central Command. They said that after a thorough review, they concluded the civilian casualty allegations from the strike were not credible.
18 April 2017
- 3-4 reported killed
US Central Command confirmed a US strike was conducted in Marib province on April 18. It had initially confirmed the strike took place the next day, but amended this in a later email. Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the strike targeted three AQAP members.
There had been reports of two strikes, one of which reportedly hit Marib. Local officials told Reuters on April 19 that an overnight drone strike killed four suspected al Qaeda members as they travelled through Marib province. One official said the bodies were too badly burnt to identify them
"A drone hit a car carrying four suspected al Qaeda members near the town of Al Hami. The vehicle was completely burned and the persons inside were killed," a second Marib official reportedly told Reuters.
AFP reported two possible US drone strikes overnight based on information from military sources, one of which reportedly hit Marib province. The strike hit a car in the province, killing three people, the sources said. AP also reported two possible US drone strikes, one of which they said hit Marib province and killed four suspected al Qaeda fighters.
The other reported strike was believed to have hit Shabwah province. Additional details can be found in entry YEM270.
2 April 2017
- Unknown reported killed
The US carried out 70 strikes in Yemen between February 28 and April 2, according to Pentagon Spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis. Twenty of these were conducted over the past weekend (April 1-2), and seem to have solely hit Shabwah province.
Interestingly, the Pentagon said the weekend strikes were “largely unmanned”, which means they were conducted by drones. The US does not usually specify the use of drones.
From the press release, it appears that 50 strikes were conducted in March and in the first two days of April, a further 20 were carried out. The twenty strikes carried out between April 1 and 2 have also been added and logged in our Yemen dataset.
Type of strike: US drone and air strike
Location: Shabwah province
References: US Department of Defence news article
31 March 2017
The US carried out 70 strikes in Yemen between February 28 and April 2, according to Pentagon Spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis. Twenty of these were conducted over the first weekend in April (April 1-2), and seem to have solely hit Shabwah province.
Interestingly, the Pentagon said the weekend strikes were “largely unmanned”, which means they were conducted by drones. The US does not usually specify the use of drones.
From the press release, it appears that 50 strikes were conducted in March and in the first two days of April, a further 20 were carried out. The Bureau has added a further 10 strikes to our March strike data, as we had already recorded 40 strikes. The twenty strikes carried out between April 1 and 2 have also been added and logged in our Yemen dataset under YEM265. This is so the strike figures can be broken down by month.
- Type of strike: US drone and air strike
- References: US Department of Defence news article
This confirms reports surfacing of possible strikes in Yemen. Below is a list of possible strikes we had recorded but had been unable to confirm:
Three suspected members of al Qaeda were killed overnight in a possible drone strike in Abyan province, according to local officials and residents reported in Reuters.
The sources said the attack took place in Mozno in al Wadie district. They identified one of the dead as Waddah Muhammed Amsouda, a local leader of the group, who was reportedly meeting the others in a house.
Residents reported a separate attack on what was believed to be an al Qaeda vehicle in the same province, but casualty figures were unknown. This could be referring to the possible strike listed in the entry below, which residents said also hit a vehicle, according to an earlier Reuters report.
The New Arab reported that unnamed local sources had told them an undisclosed number of people had been killed in at least three air strikes in the village of al-Suda in Abyan province. While these reportedly took place in a different area, the sources said they hit the house of a "leader", and also a vehicle.
The New Arab reported that Abyan province had been hit by US drone strikes and naval bombardments killing a number of AQAP members on March 30.
A drone strike hit a vehicle killing four suspected al Qaeda members in Abyan province, according to residents and a security official.
Residents told Reuters that the attack took place in Amqoz in Moudiya district around midnight on March 28. A security official in AFP said two missiles hit the vehicle on the outskirts of Moudiya town.
Residents reported a possible second attack in Abyan. They said they heard missile strikes hit a suspected al Qaeda outpost in Wadi al-Naseel area, but were unsure on casualty figures.
A security official said that two suspected members of Yemen's branch of al Qaeda had been killed in what appeared to be a US air strike in Hadramawt province.
The official identified the men as Abu Jandal al Hadrami and Abu Hashim al Sharuri.
Hadramawt province was not one of the three provinces hit in the upsurge of strikes between March 2 and March 6. President Trump reportedly granted a Pentagon request to declares parts of these provinces as "areas of active hostilities", allowing the US to launch attacks with fewer constraints. To read more, see here.
A suspected AQAP member was killed in a drone strike near the town of Wadia in Abyan province, a security source told AFP. The source named the deceased as Qassem Khalil.
The sourcing is too vague to record this as a confirmed US strike as yet.
6 March 2017
- 7-11 reported killed
- 0-2 children reported killed
A US air strike conducted overnight in Abyan province brought the total number of strikes carried out in the past five nights to 40, Pentagon Spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said in a press briefing on March 6.
Davis said the overnight strike killed seven al Qaeda fighters, according to the New York Times.
This confirmed reports of strikes hitting Yemen in the days following March 2 and 3, when an unprecedented number of strikes hit targets across three Yemeni provinces.
Reuters had reported residents and tribal sources saying a drone strike destroyed a car travelling in Wadi Yashbum on the afternoon of March 6, charring the two men inside, believed to be members of al Qaeda, beyond recognition. Residents reported another strike hitting the home of a suspected al Qaeda member in the village of Noufan in Bayda province, while another reportedly struck a mountainous area in al Saeed, Shabwa province, which was supposedly a training camp for the group.
Residents said two boys under 15, named as brothers Ahmed and Mohammed al Khobze, were killed by a drone strike while walking on a road reportedly used by al Qaeda fighters in Yakla, Bayda province, on March 6, according to Reuters. Yakla was the site of last month's botched US raid which killed nine children under the age of 13.
US Central Command said they were not aware of any credible civilian casualty allegations from the March 6 strike. They did say they had looked into the allegations in the Reuters reporting and determined they were not credible in accordance with their established procedures. Four AQAP fighters were targeted in the March 6 strike, killing two AQAP armed fighters, US Central Command said.
On March 3, Captain Davis told reporters that approximately 25 strikes had been conducted on March 2 and "several" more had hit Yemen on March 3, putting the combined total of strikes at more than 30. A defence official in Washington reportedly told AFP that the US conducted "about 10" strikes on March 3.
The Bureau recorded between 30-35 strikes on March 2 and 3 as a result of the above information. The latest remarks from Captain Davis means there were at least five additional strikes in the days following, up until the press briefing on March 6. We had only recorded one confirmed strike and have now included the extra strikes in our database to bring the total since March 2 to 40.
4 March 2017
- 2 reported killed
Local sources told Anadolu Agency that two suspected al Qaeda militants were killed when a drone struck their motorbike in eastern Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.
Al Jazeera also reported that a drone strike killed two suspected fighters on a motorbike, based on information from a security official, although the source said it hit Ahwar, located in the same province. AFP also reported a security official providing the same details.
Reuters reported two strikes based on information provided by tribal sources and residents, one of which hit a "vehicle" travelling on the outskirts of Ahwar.
Another strike hit a crowd of suspected al Qaeda fighters in Al Saeed in Shabwah province, according to tribal sources and residents reported in Al Jazeera and Reuters, but casualty figures were not given. The sourcing was too vague to record it as a confirmed strike.
Over the previous two days, three provinces in Yemen, including Abyan and Shabwah, witnessed an extremely high number of strikes.
On March 6, Pentagon Spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said that a total of 40 strikes had been carried out over the past five nights, which would include the confirmed strike above and may include the possible second strike.
3 March 2017
- 1-8 reported killed
- Possible reported civilian casualties
The US hit Yemen with a high number of strikes for a second consecutive day.
Pentagon Spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis told reporters that US warplanes conducted approximately 25 strikes on March 2 and "several" more on March 3, putting the combined total of strikes at more than 30. Meanwhile, a defence official in Washington reportedly told AFP that the US conducted "about 10" strikes on March 3.
Captain Davis said the US was engaged in a sustained campaign in areas where AQAP is most active, but said that no US ground troops had been involved in the firefights since the January raid.
AFP reported tribal sources saying that US strikes hit three houses in the Yashbam Valley before dawn on March 3, one of which belonged to Saad Atef, al Qaeda's Shabwa province commander. Security officials reported that eight fighters were killed, and tribal sources said that women and children were wounded.
Middle East Eye reported Wadi Yashbum village in Shabwah province being targeted, but reported residents saying they were hit with 10-15 strikes. Three hours later, according to MEE, residents of Jabal Mugan in Abyan province reported strikes. Residents also cited ground battles involving US troops and al-Qaeda fighters, although Captain Davis has said that ground troops were not been involved.
AP reported a Bayda tribal leader saying houses were bombed in Yakla, the site of the botched January raid, but it was not clear on what day this might have happened.
On March 6, the Pentagon announced Harithah al Waqri had been killed in the March 3 strikes, describing him as an AQAP fighter and communications intermediary for Usayd al Adani, who they also announced the death of. More information on Adani can be found in the entry below.
2 March 2017
- 2-12 reported killed
In an unprecedented intensification of America’s counter-terrorism operations in Yemen, the US confirmed it carried out 20 strikes across three provinces.
This figure was upped on March 3, when Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters that approximately 25 strikes had been conducted on March 2.
The strikes, which were carried out in the early morning of March 2, targeted fighters from the regional arm of al Qaeda, known as AQAP, their equipment and infrastructure, in the Yemeni provinces of Abyan, al Bayda and Shabwah, according to a press release from the US Department of Defense published on the same day.
Captain Davis said in the statement that the strikes were conducted in partnership with the Government of Yemen, and were coordinated with the President Hadi.
Early on, AFP reported two suspected US drone strikes in Yemen. The New York Times reported strikes in the three provinces in Yemen, based on information from a senior American military official and a Yemeni military official. AFP later amended their original report to say that four separate drone strikes had hit the country.
A provincial security official told AFP that one strike hit the home of an al Qaeda fighter in Yashbum Valley, Shabwah province, killing four alleged fighters as they stood outside. Local residents were reported in the New York Times saying the strike destroyed a house used by al Qaeda operatives in the Saeid region of the province. Local media in Yemen also reported that at least three suspected Qaeda members has been killed in Shabwah, according to NYT.
A second strike, according to a security source reported in AFP, hit an Al-Qaeda position east of the Abyan province town of Shaqra, but there was no immediate casualty figures. A Yemeni military official said airstrikes hit the Abyan mountains around 3.30 am local time.
An updated AFP report said that two strikes hit al Bayda province. They reported a local official and a tribal chief saying that a strike on Al Qayfa in Bayda killed three suspected al Qaeda members. The local official said that another strike hit Sawmaa district of the province, but there were no immediate casualty figures.
Yemeni officials reportedly said at least 12 suspected fighters were killed in the strikes.
The Pentagon announced on March 6 that one of strikes had killed former Guantanamo detainee, Yasir al Silmi. In a statement, the Pentagon said he was repatriated from Guantanamo to Yemen in 2009, after having been held in the detention centre since 2002. He was killed alongside Usayd al Adani in Abyan, described by Davis as a longtime AQAP explosives expert and facilitator who served as the organisation’s emir.
All 25 strikes have been added to the database and included in the strike tally.
30 January 2017
- 2 reported killed
A US drone strike killed two al Qaeda operatives driving through the southern province of Shabwa early on January 30, according to military, security and tribal sources. A US military spokesperson however told the Bureau: “I can confirm that Centcom did not conduct a strike in that area.” The CIA has yet to respond to an email inviting them to confirm or deny responsibility for the attack.
The attack came shortly after a US special forces raid targeting an al Qaeda-linked house in Bayda province left scores dead, including a US serviceman and nine children under 13 years of age.
29 January 2017
- 39 reported killed
- 25 civilians reported killed, of whom 10 were reported children
- 7 reported injured
The US Navy special forces conducted a raid in the Yakla region of Bayda province with the intent to gather information on AQAP. A US Central Command press release said a US serviceman and approximately 14 terrorists had been killed in the operation. Yemeni officials reported multiple civilian casualties following the raid.
US soldiers were flown to the location from the USS Makin Island, an amphibious assault ship, off the Yemeni coast. They approached the compound with Emirati troops but were met with withering fire. The “site exploitation mission” target was described by CENTCOM in a February 3 press release as an AQAP “staging area, propaganda center, and logistics hub”. Three US soldiers were wounded and Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, a Navy SEAL, was killed, according to CENTCOM.
According to the US, a military aircraft assisting the operation experienced a “hard landing at a nearby location,” resulting in three more American injuries. It was unable to fly afterwards and was intentionally destroyed. US sources said it was a MV-22 Osprey, a helicopter-fixed wing hybrid used by the US marines.
US Central Command issued a later press release which said that an investigating team “concluded regrettably that civilian non-combatants were likely killed”, which “may” include children. It said that the civilian casualties appeared to have been potentially caught up in aerial gunfire called in to assist US forces in “contact against a determined enemy”, which included “armed women firing from prepared fighting positions”. The ongoing assessment is probing whether there are still un-detected civilian casualties.
The Bureau worked with a journalist who visited the targeted village of al Yakla five days after the raid and talked to nine of the survivors. We collected the names of 25 civilians killed as reported by those who live there, see here. Human Rights Watch said the names matched the ones it collected, referencing the Bureau's work. Nine of those killed were under 13, including a baby of three months. Eight women were killed, including one who was heavily pregnant. Seven more women and children were injured. A Pentagon official told NBC News on February 28 that the Pentagon did not dispute these numbers.
|1.||Asma Fahad Ali al Ameri||3 months|
|2.||Aisha Mohammed Abdallah al Ameri||4 years|
|3.||Halima Hussein al Aifa al Ameri||5 years|
|4.||Hussein Mohammed Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri||5 years|
|5.||Mursil Abedraboh Masad al Ameri||6 years|
|6.||Khadija Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri||7 years|
|7.||Nawar Anwar al Awlaqi||8 years|
|8.||Ahmed Abdelilah Ahmed al Dahab||11 years|
|9.||Nasser Abdallah Ahmed al Dahab||12 years|
AQAP say 14 “of its men” were killed in the clash, including six villagers. The youngest was 17, the oldest 80.
Pentagon spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis confirmed women were killed in the operation but said they were combatants. “The [female fighters] ran to pre-established positions as if they’d trained to be ready and trained to be combatants and engage with us. So, some of the enemy killed in combat are in fact female,” he said.
A CENTCOM press release on February 3 said officials believe Sultan al Dhahab and Abd-al-Ra’uf al-Dhahab, described as “longstanding AQAP operational planners and weapons experts”, had been killed in the operation. The al Dhahab family is an AQAP ally based in Bayda province. Its members have been attacked by the US in Yemen before.
Initial news reports differed on casualty figures. Reprieve found that 23 civilians were killed, including a newborn baby boy and ten children. According to them, local reports said a heavily pregnant mother was shot in the stomach during the raid and gave birth to an injured baby boy who died on January 31. Reprieve said that an 80-year-old man and a man who narrowly escaped death in a 2013 drone strike on his wedding were also killed. According to Washington Post, a Yemeni official said 35 to 40 people in the village had been killed, but it was unclear if they were all considered to be militants. According to the provincial official, 16 civilians were killed in the attack, including eight women and eight children. Medics at the scene told Reuters that around 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.
The operation had been planned for months but had been authorised by President Trump, according to the Washington Post. In a statement, Trump called the raid “successful” and credited it with capturing intelligence that would assist the US in “preventing terrorism against its citizens and people around the world”. CENTCOM shared clips from a series of lessons on bomb-making obtained from a computer seized in the raid, however it transpired that the videos appeared to be ten years old and had already been available on the internet.
An unnamed US official painted a grim picture of the assault, telling NBC News: “Almost everything went wrong.” US military officials told Reuters that Trump approved the operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup operations. As a result, the SEAL team found “itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists”, three officials told Reuters.
In response, CENTCOM spokesman Colonel John Thomas said: “CENTCOM asks for operations we believe have a good chance for success and when we ask for authorization we certainly believe there is a chance of successful operations based on our planning.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer detailed the process of approving the mission in a press briefing, stressing the steps taken prior to Trump taking office, although some members of Obama’s national security team disputed this version.
- Type of strike: US ground operation with aerial support
- Location: Yakla, Bayda province
- References: Department of Defense press release, Washington Post, AFP, Reuters, Xinhua, US Central Command press release, Department of Defense press release, CNN, NBC News, ABC News, Department of Defense press release, Department of Defense via phone call, Reuters, US Central Command press release, Reprieve press release, White House press briefing, New York Times, US Central Command press release, New York Times, Telegraph, US Central Command press release, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Human Rights Watch, NBC
22 January 2017
- 1-3 people reported killed
Local officials told Reuters that three suspected al Qaeda members were killed in two separate US drone strikes hitting two vehicles, both occurring on January 22. The sourcing was too vague to confirm the strike, but US Central Command confirmed a single strike hit the province on the same day, which they said killed one "AQAP operative".
The US confirmed strike has been added to our strike tally. Where sources differ over how many strikes took place or how many people were killed we provide a minimum and maximum count in our datasets. We have included the extra strike and the two additional people reported killed in Reuters in the maximum count.
Although these appear to be the first US strikes outside areas of active hostilities since the new administration moved in, the Washington Post reported Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis saying that they did not require approval by recently appointed Defense Secretary James Mattis or President Donald Trump.
21 January 2017
- 3-6 reported killed
Reports surfaced regarding possible US drone strikes in Bayda province.
A security source told AFP that a drone strike on 21 January hit a vehicle in Sawmaa of Bayda province killing three “armed members” of al Qaeda. A strike on the same day killed three suspected “jihadists” riding a motorcycle, the source said.
AP reported security and tribal officials saying that three alleged al Qaeda operatives were killed in two suspected drone strikes on January 21, including Abu Anis al Abi, an “area field commander”.
The US Central Command confirmed a strike in Bayda province on January 21 killed three AQAP operatives.
Due to the vague sourcing and contradictory information in the above reporting, we have used a range in our datasets. The minimum strike and casualty figures will be taken from the information from US Central Command, while the upper end of the range will include the reporting in AP and AFP.
Although these strikes seem to be the first US strikes outside areas of active hostilities since the new administration moved in, the Washington Post reported Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis saying that they did not require approval by recently appointed Defense Secretary James Mattis or President Donald Trump.
20 January 2017
- 1 reported killed
A local security source told AFP that a drone strike on January 20 killed a "local military instructor" in Bayda province. A US spokesperson later confirmed that a strike hit the province on the same day and said it killed one AQAP operative.
Although the strike occurred on the same day as the inauguration of the US president, the Washington Post reported Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis saying that they (three strikes confirmed by the US) did not require approval by recently appointed Defense Secretary James Mattis or President Donald Trump.
8 January 2017
- 1 reported killed
A US military press release announced a strike in Bayda province had killed one AQAP operative. The press release was published four days after the strike occurred.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement on January 13 that the strike had killed Abd al Ghani al Rasas, described as an AQAP “terrorist leader”. Cook said: “This strike removes an AQAP senior leader and facilitator in the area and will disrupt AQAP’s terrorism operations in Yemen and the region.”