Yemen: Reported US covert actions 2019

The timeline below contains information on all US drone and air strikes and other covert actions in Yemen recorded by the Bureau in 2019. 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 2018 timeline for Yemen can be found here. 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 2019
Confirmed US air and drone strikes Possible US air and drone strikes Additional US attacks
Total reported strikes 9
Total reported killed 1-6
Children reported killed 0
Total reported injured 0


YEM324Ci link

1 November 2019

  • 2 reported killed

Two suspected al Qaeda fighters were killed in a US drone strike in Marib province, Xinhua reported.

Originally reported by Yemeni pro-government media, Almasdar Online, the strike killed "Khamis bin Afraj and his brother Turki in Raidan area north of Marib."

Unnamed Yemeni government sources were quoted as saying that the two were suspected al Qaeda operatives.

We are currently unable to record this in our database of confirmed US strikes due to vague sourcing.

According to New America, CENTCOM denied carrying out the strike, saying that the last strike in Yemen was on June 24. On January 2, they said that an investigation into the alleged strike is ongoing, "reiterating the last CENTCOM strike remained June 24".

This does not, however, exclude CIA actions.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Raidan area, Marib province
  • References: Xinhua, New America

YEM324C link

21 August 2019

  • Unknown casualties

A US drone strike was conducted on the al Bayda/Marib border, according to LiveuaMap.

No further details were given.

According to DoD aviator, Crispin Burke, who tweeted the link to LiveuaMap - the strike was targeting an al Qaeda base.

US Central Command said that they did not conduct any strikes in Yemen in August 2019. This does not, however, exclude CIA actions.

  • Type of strike: Possible US strike
  • Location: Al Bayda/Marib border
  • References: Central Command via email, LiveuaMap, Crispin Burke

YEM324 link

24 June 2019

  • 5 reported killed

The US military has confirmed that it carried out one strike in Yemen in June.

CENTCOM spokesperson LTC Earl Brown confirmed that the strike was in Al Bayda and that no collateral damage or civilian harm had been assessed.

Five members of AQAP were killed in the drone strikes, Xinhua reported.

According to their security sources, three strikes targeted a gathering of AQAP fighters in the Dhi Nhim district in the northwest of al Bayda late in the evening.

While it's been reported as three strikes, the US military count strikes that happen in quick succession, until they have the desired effect on target, as a singular strike.

Other security sources told Xinhua that those killed were mid-level commanders.

  • Type of strike: US air or drone strike
  • Location: Al Bayda governorate
  • References: Central Command via email, Xinhua

YEM323C link

7 May 2019

  • 4 reported killed

A suspected US drone strike killed four al Qaeda fighters in Marib province, AFP reported.

According to a local security official that AFP spoke to the strike targeted the men as they were driving to a farm in Marib.

No further details are currently known.

We are currently unable to record this in our database of confirmed US strikes due to vague sourcing.

  • Type of strike: Possible US drone strike
  • Location: Marib province
  • References: AFP

YEM323 link

31 March 2019

  • Unknown casualties

The US military has confirmed that they conducted a series of six airstrikes in Yemen over the last week, all targeting AQAP.

The strikes, which occurred in the Al Bayda governorate, were the first US military actions in the country in three months.

In a press release from US Central Command, Lt. Col. Earl Brown, noted:

“In coordination with the government of Yemen, U.S. forces continue to support ongoing counterterrorism operations against AQAP and ISIS-Y to disrupt and destroy militants' attack-plotting efforts, networks, and freedom of maneuver within the region,”

There is currently no known information on how many casualties resulted from the strikes.

We have recorded this as March 31, however, we presently only know that the six strikes took place over that week.

YEM322 link

1 January 2019

  • 1 reported killed

The US has confirmed the death of al Qaeda operative Jamal al Badawi in a strike carried out in Yemen's Marib province.

A US grand jury indicted Badawi in 2003 for his role in the USS Cole bombing in which seventeen US soldiers were killed. In October 2000, two suicide bombers rammed the shop in a boat packed with explosives as it refuelled in the port of Aden.

A press release from Central Command stated:

Jamal al-Badawi was a legacy al Qaeda operative in Yemen involved in the USS Cole bombing. US forces confirmed the results of the strike following a deliberate assessment process.
Jamal al-Badawi was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003, charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of US nationals and murder of U.S. military personnel; was wanted by the US for his role in the Oct. 12, 2000 terrorist attack against USS Cole; and was also charged with attempting with co-conspirators to attack a US Navy vessel in January 2000.

There was no information on whether any other people were killed in the strike.

"Our great military has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack," President Trump commented in a tweet.

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