Yemen: Reported US covert actions 2018

The timeline below contains information on all US drone and air strikes and other covert actions in Yemen recorded by the Bureau in 2018. 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. 

Full data

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.

US operations, Yemen 2018
Confirmed US air and drone strikes Possible US air and drone strikes Additional US attacks
Total reported strikes 16 0 0
Total reported killed 12-13 0 0
Civilians reported killed 0 0 0
Children reported killed 0 0 0
Total reported injured 0 0 0


YEM300C link

5 March 2018

A caseworker at Reprieve tweeted that a US drone strike in Marib province had killed a child. A US spokesperson however said that no strikes had been carried out in Marib this year.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Marib province
  • References: US Central Command press release via email, Twitter 

YEM300 link

5 March 2018

  • 4 reported killed

The US conducted an airstrike in Hadramout on March 5, Central Command confirmed, although no further details were provided.  

A local security official offered some details to Xinhua. "A pilotless plane of the U.S. Air Forces conducted a strike on a moving vehicle in Albar desert of Hadramout province, killing four members of al-Qaida network and destroying their vehicle," the source said on condition of anonymity.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Hadramout
  • References: US Central Command press release via email, Xinhua

YEM299 link

28 February 2018

  • Unknown reported killed

A US spokesperson told the Bureau five US strikes were carried out in Yemen in February.

We had recorded two strikes in our database. The additional three have been entered under this single entry.

No additional details on the dates, location or casualty estimates were given. 

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Unknown 
  • References: US Central Command press release via email

YEM298 link

16 February 2018

  • 2-3 reported killed

Reports surfaced of a strike in Yemen's Bayda province. 

AFP said a motorbike was targeted at around midnight on February 16. A security official told them, "The strike targeted two al Qaeda militants, local commander Abu Hussein al Theriya and another, Dawoud al Sanaani, as they rode through the province."

However, Xinhua said a military official told them drone strike on February 17 hit a small pick-up truck killing three AQAP members. They also reported the death of a local commander. Residents near the scene confirmed to Xinhua that the bodies of the commander and two companions were in the vehicle. 

We reached out to Central Command who confirmed they carried out a strike on February 16 in Bayda province. No further details were provided. We have added this strike into the database. 

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Bayda province
  • References: US Central Command press release via email, AFP, Xinhua

YEM297 link

11 February 2018

  • 6 reported killed

The US confirmed it conducted a strike against AQAP in Bayda province on February 11. 

While no additional details were provided, AFP reported six members of the group were killed, citing a security official.

“An unmanned drone -- likely American -- bombed the group’s vehicle in the area of Qayfa, where Al-Qaeda is active,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Bayda province
  • References: US Central Command press release via email, AFP

YEM296 link

29 January 2018

US forces have carried out ten strikes in Yemen since the start of the year, a US Central Command spokesperson told the Bureau on January 29. 

The Bureau hadn't recorded any strikes in our database for 2018 and we have not come across news reports on these attacks. We have now updated our database to include the ten strikes. 

We have yet to receive information of where and when they occurred, or any information on casualty estimates. This post will be updated when and if more information comes to light. 

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Unknown 
  • References: US Centra Command press release via email

YEM295Cii link

28 January 2018

  • 7 civilians reported killed

Protests reportedly erupted in Shabwah in response to an alleged drone strike killing civilians on January 28, but US Central Command has said they did not carry out a strike on this day. 

Residents say that a car was hit carrying at least six male members of the same family and another individual. They were reportedly looking for a missing child.

Saleh al-Aishi al-Ateeqi, a relative of one of the victims and the organiser of the protest, told local media that "the victims were all innocent civilians who had nothing to do with any political or religious organisation."

We had seen reports of a strike hitting a car in the same province and killing seven people, but this was reportedly the day before. The US also denied carrying out a strike in Yemen on that day. 

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike 
  • Location: Said district, Shabwah province 
  • References: Al Jazeera, US Central Command via email 

YEM295Ci link

27 January 2018

  • 7 reported killed

AFP reported a drone strike killing seven suspected AQAP fighters in Shabwah province in the early hours of January 27, citing a security source. A car was allegedly targeted in the strike. 

While US Central Command denied US forces carried out a strike on this day, they did say ten strikes had been carried out so far in 2018. We hadn't recorded any strikes since the start of the year. These ten are recorded in the entry above. 

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike 
  • Location: Shabwah province 
  • References: AFP, US Central Command press release via email