Yemen: Reported US covert actions 2016

This page details events reported by US and Yemeni government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources.

Many of the US attacks 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”.

Both the Pentagon and CIA have been operating drones over Yemen. But 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”.

Two alleged AQAP members were killed when a US drone strike destroyed a vehicle as it drove through eastern Hadramout province.

Local residents and unnamed Yemeni military officials said the strike hit in the evening. Locals told Reuters the strike hit the vehicle on the outskirts of Seiyun, the second largest city in the province and the military officials told AFP the attack hit while the car drove through al Qotn, a town approximately 40km from Seiyun, indicating the men had left or were approaching the city.

The attack hit as officials and workers in the port of Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout, said unregistered ships been warned by the Saudi Arabian navy to leave the port facility immediately. Reuters reported this was “an apparent attempt to move against Islamist militants who control the provincial capital’s harbour”.

The Saudis had hitherto not taken steps to counter the AQAP presence in Yemen. It had focused on the Houthi militia and its allies that had taken control of the capital and swathes of the country in 2015. This reported move against Mukalla could suggest this drone strike was in fact a Saudi airstrike. While the Bureau understands the Royal Saudi Air Force is technically capable of targeting a moving target at night, analysts said this attack did not fit with its targeting norms.

A US drone strike overnight hit a moving car in Shabwa province. Six alleged AQAP fighters were reported killed. The Pentagon area command responsible for Yemen, Central Command (Centcom), published a press release on June 3 listing nine US “counter-terrorism strikes” in Yemen. The release corroborated the preceding reports, saying: “A strike Feb. 3 in Shabwah Governorate in central Yemen, which killed 6 al-Qa’ida operatives.”

Al Qaeda fighters raised their flag and fired weapons in the air in the port city of Zinjibar after the news emerged. The attack hit in Abyan province as Balaidi was driving from the neighbouring Shabwa province with two bodyguards.

Relatives, tribal sources, Yemeni security officials, and AQAP sources confirmed Balaidi died in the attack.

The US put out a $5m reward for “information that brings [Balaidi] justice” through its Rewards for Justice programme. It said he was responsible for planning a 2013 attacks on “Western diplomatic officials and facilities in Sanaa using explosives”. He was described as a “regional emir, responsible for multiple governorates”.

A single, local official said a US drone attack hit “two public buildings” in Huta, Lahij province. Witnesses said two US drones were seen flying over the town before and after the attack.

The US killed three al Qaeda operatives, according to a Centcom press release. They died in one of nine “counter-terrorism strikes against AQAP in Yemen,” which hit between February and May, that the regional military command publicly acknowledged in 2016.

US drones killed four alleged AQAP fighters diving through Shabwah province in southern Yemen. The strike destroyed the vehicle – photographs purportedly taken of the aftermath showed shrapnel thrown far from the wreckage.

A local military official said: “The US drone pounded a four-wheel-drive vehicle carrying al Qaeda operatives in the tribal district of Radhum in Shabwa province, killing about four terrorists at the scene.” A tribal source told Xinhua that “four charred bodies of al Qeda gunmen were found scattered around the bombing site after the airstrike.”

The attack hit near an oil terminal to the west of Mukalla, the capital of neighbouring Hadramout province. The city became a hotbed of al Qaeda activity after the group took control there in April 2015. A number of US drone strikes last year hit Mukalla, killing a number of senior AQAP figures.

March 7 2016
It became clear in early 2016 that senior AQAP leader Othman al Ghamdi had probably been killed in Yemen the year before.

The US government would not confirm his death however they told the Bureau that al Ghamdi (right) no longer posed “a threat to US persons or interests”.

It was not clear when the Saudi Arabian may have died though his entry on the US government’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) wanted list had been removed at some point between September 2015 and January 2016.

Removing a name from the RFJ list does not necessarily mean a terrorist has been killed or captured.

The Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar was removed from the RFJ list after the US believed it had killed him in an airstrike in Libya in June 2015. However there is considerable evidence to suggest he is at large, carrying out bloody attacks in West Africa.

A Department of State spokesperson told the Bureau by email: “We cannot confirm if the individual is alive or dead, but we can confirm that the [RFJ] reward offer for information on Othman al Ghamdi has been removed from the public-facing list of reward offers.”

“The RFJ program removes reward offers from its website when a US government agency confirms that an RFJ-listed individual no longer poses a threat to US persons or interests,” the spokesperson added.

Both Belmokhtar and al Ghamdi’s pages on the RFJ website had been moved to a section of the site, marked “Place to hide links temporarily” that cannot be accessed via the site’s front page but is still indexed by web searches.

The Department of State spokesperson said al Ghamdi’s “web page announcing the reward offer” was “in a temporary holding portion of the web site from which it will soon be deleted”.

The Pentagon said “50 [AQAP fighters] were removed from the battlefield” in an airstrike on a training camp being used by more than 70 al Qaeda members.

AFP initially reported 40 people died in the strike however an unnamed Yemeni officials told the agency on March 25 that “the toll from Tuesday’s US strike has risen to 71 dead and 28 wounded.”

Local medics and an unnamed local official told Reuters on March 23 the death toll stood at 50 with around 30 injured. The jets struck “as al Qaeda people stood in line to receive their dinner meal,” the unnamed local official added.

Early reports erroneously said the strike was conducted by jets from the Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen since March 2015.

This was the sixth US attack in Yemen in 2016. It hit a training camp on Yemen’s south coast – near the city of Mukalla in the eastern province of Hadramout.

AQAP announced the men killed in the strike were not being trained to fight the US. In a statement released on March 30, the group said it was using the camp to train a volunteer militia to fight the Houthis.

This attack came 17 days after US Air Force warplanes killed at least 150 al Shabaab fighters in a strike on a training camp in central Somalia.

“The Somalia and Yemen strikes suggest that the White House has authorized a significant opening of the aperture to target gatherings of suspected terror groups, rather than named individuals who pose imminent threats,” Micah Zenko, a foreign policy expert on the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Guardian.

The mass-casualty attack in Yemen did not constitute a new policy direction, Pentagon spokesman Major Ben Sakrisson told the Guardian. “This strike was conducted consistent with the policy for counter-terrorism direct action announced by the president in May 2013,” he said.

CIA and US military drones and jets have been targeting Yemen since 2002 but always under a veil of secrecy. This was the first time the US Department of Defense has announced it carried out a strike in Yemen.

The US has declared its responsibility for strikes in Yemen in the past but they have always either come via off-the-record comments by unnamed officials to journalists or in US government documents released under freedom of information rules.

The Bureau has not recorded a higher death toll from a US attack in Yemen since at least 55 civilians were killed in December 2009 by US Navy cruise missiles. One or two missiles hit a nomadic camp in the small hours of December 17 – each missile was loaded with hundreds of cluster munitions; each bomblet packed with incendiary material.

Two reported US drone strikes left eight men dead, according to local residents. The strikes hit two buildings, one in al Hudhn village and the other in Naqeel al Hayala village in Abyan governorate. It was not clear how many people died in each strike so they have been recorded together here.

A third drone strike of the day was reported in Abyan governorate. It hit a series of government buildings in Zinjibar. The provincial capital was overrun by al Qaeda in February and the group had occupied the buildings, including the intelligence headquarters.

A series of airstrikes struck an al Qaeda base in Mukalla, in the south-eastern province Hadramout. The attack was conducted with jets, not drones, local residents said. The sound of the jets was louder than drones, they explained. The attack could have been carried out by the Saudi-led coalition though it had eschewed targeting the AQAP hotspot of Mukalla.

Speculative reports emerged the day after the strike suggesting the leader of AQAP, Qasim al Raymi, may have been killed in the strike.

A US strike killed four alleged al Qaeda members at a checkpoint in Azzan, a town in the southern province of Shabwa. The attacks were attributed to the US by eye-witnesses, local residents and an unnamed Yemeni official. A US defence department spokesperson said “we have no information regarding this strike” on March 31. On June 3 Centcom, the US military regional command responsible for Yemen, announced this attack was one of nine that hit Yemen between February and May. The press release announced the US conducted “a strike March 30 in the vicinity of Azzan in central Yemen, which killed 2 al-Qa’ida operatives.”

An unknown number of people were killed in a series of airstrikes on an airfield near Mukalla, the capital of the southeastern Hadramout governorate. The attacks were attributed to the US however the Pentagon denied responsibility for the attack.

Unidentified warplanes once again targeted a former military base outside Mukalla, in southeastern Hadramout. Four or five strikes in all were launched, Reuters reported. The US military said it was not responsible and the CIA had not commented by the time this data entry was added to the timeline. An unnamed Yemeni official said the strikes were conducted by the Saudi-led coalition however another Yemeni official cautioned that it was not clear who had carried out the attacks.

Two strikes by unidentified warplanes hit Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan. An al Qaeda-occupied, local government building was set ablaze by the night strikes.

The terrorists had occupied the targeted building since they took control of Zinjibar in February. Apache helicopters reportedly flew over the city after the attack.

It was not clear who carried out the attack with news outlets suggesting it was either a US strike or conducted by the Sauid-led coalition.

Two alleged AQAP fighters were reported killed south of Mareb city as they drove in a vehicle. The car was reportedly destroyed in the drone strike. However this was not included on a list of four US attacks released by Centcom, the regional headquarters responsible for US military operations in the Middle East.

This was one of four attacks listed on the Centcom press release, the first time the US military has published so much information about its counter-terrorism operations in Yemen.

A US strike killed at least two “prominent al Qaeda leaders” in Zinjibar province, according to Centcom, the US military command that runs its war in Yemen and across the Middle East into Afghanistan. Media reports put the death toll as high as six.

The dead were responsible for AQAP’s finances, Yemeni officials told the Associated Press. Reuters reported Abu Sameh al Zinjibari and his aids died as they drove through Amoudiya, a village near Jaar and Zinjibar.

A US air or drone strike hit in Azzan on April 25 however the exact death toll is unclear.

The Pentagon said a counter-terrorism strike had killed two AQAP fighters in a strike in Azzan. However news reports put the death toll at nine or 10.

The attack hit during an advance by the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia against al Qaeda’s base in southern Yemen. The seven or eight dead reported in the press in addition to the two reported killed by US Central Command may have perished in a strike by the Saudi-led coalition.

On Sunday the Coalition forces conducted airstrikes against AQAP in the southeastern provincial capital of Mukalla, 230 kilometers away from Azzan. About 2,000 Yemeni and Emirati troops advanced on the al Qaeda-held port city, according to a Reuters report citing local residents and officials.

“We entered the city center (of Mukalla) and were met by no resistance from al Qaeda militants who withdrew west,” towards the vast desert in Hadramawt and Shabwa provinces, a military officer told AFP. Early reports citing medical sources and residents said airstrikes killed at least 30 militants.

Ground troops that moved on the city were made up of members of the Yemeni army, supported by Special Forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Air strikes were carried out by the coalition.

A US counter-terrorism drone or air strike killed four al Qaeda fighters and injured one more, the military said in a May 9 statement.

Centcom, which runs the US’s wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, published a list of four strikes, killing 10 people in total. This was the last on the list. The accompanying statement read:

May 6 2016
The US Department of Defence announced it was providing Yemeni and Saudi-led coalition forces with battlefield support, aiding the Gulf alliance in its efforts to push AQAP from the city of Mukalla.

The terrorist group were ousted from their long-time stronghold on two weeks earlier, though experts said AQAP put up a token resistance and withdrew from the city into the surrounding country.

The US provided intelligence support, air support and medical facilities to the coalition. This included around a dozen special operations advisers in Mukalla as well as a the service of a flotilla of warships and a marine expeditionary unit.

AQAP had held Mukalla for more than a year and was its most significant stronghold since it held a swath of southern Yemen in 2011 and 2012.

The coalition forces claimed to have retaken the city on April 24. The city’s airport, seaport and oil terminal were brought swiftly under coalition control, and checkpoints were set up across the city.

A coalition statement said that more than 800 al Qaeda militants were killed during the operation and the rest of them fled the city. However, several media reported that interviews with residents indicated that there had been little violence during the city’s recapture.

“It’s highly exaggerated. There was only very little combat,” resident Mubarak al Hameli told Reuters. Journalist Iona Craig reiterated this to Al Jazeera, saying that “There weren’t even 800 fighters left there. There was no fighting inside the city because al Qaeda had already left.”

A military officer told AFP that al Qaeda forces had left the city without a fight: “We entered the city centre and were met by no resistance from al Qaeda militants who withdrew west.”

No death toll has yet been verified. An unnamed Yemeni military official told Reuters that 48 people had been killed on April 24, of which 30 were al Qaeda fighters.

AQAP confirmed a week later in a post on Twitter that it had retreated from the city on April 24.

After about 2,000 Yemeni and Emirati troops entered the city, the US sent special operations troops to help coalition forces with intelligence and technical assistance on aerial surveillance and mission planning.

NPR reporter Tom Bowman reported that a US Special Operations team had arrived in Yemen the day after the recapture of the city

Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson and navy captain, told a news briefing that there was only a “very small number” of US forces in Yemen, and that they were operating from a fixed location to provide support.

Davis also said that the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, was positioned off the coast in order to provide medical support if needed.

The soldiers and aircraft of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Group was embarked on the Boxer, an aircraft carrier capable of supporting helicopters and Harrier strike fighters as well as amphibious landing craft. It was operating as part of an amphibious ready group including the destroyers USS Gravely and USS Gonzalez.

May 9 2016
The US military released a list of four drone strikes that it said killed 10 AQAP fighters (see above). The statement said:

A US “counter-terrorism strike against [AQAP]” killed four alleged al Qaeda fighters, the US reported on June 3. The strike went unreported until Centcom, the US military command responsible for Yemen, announced the strike was one of nine that it had publicly acknowledged in 2016.

A US strike killed two al Qaeda fighters in Bayda province, destroying their vehicle which was carrying loaded with weapons. The US military reported the strike hit on June 8 and local media reported it hit early on June 9.

The US military announced an airstrike in Marib province killed two al Qaeda operatives.

A US drone strike destroyed a minibus in Shabwa province, killing two al Qaeda operatives, injuring the driver. According to Yemeni security officials, the minibus the militants were travelling in was driving near the town of Haban when it was struck. A third al Qaeda operative reportedly travelling in the car was injured and died after being transferred to Haban hospital.

At least two alleged al Qaeda fighters were reported killed in a “counter-terrorism strike” by the US military in Shabwa province.

The US Central Command (Centcom) confirmed it conducted the attack in a press release on July 8. “Strikes against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen put consistent pressure on the terrorist network and prevents them from plotting and executing attacks against U.S. persons, our homeland and our allies,” the military command said.

The attack was first reported by local and international media. The death toll varied between reports, ranging from three to six. The attack reportedly hit an SUV in the Gardan area, reducing the vehicle to a charred wreck.

At least two al Qaeda fighters were killed in a “counter-terrorism strike” by the US military in Shabwa province. Centcom, the US military command responsible for operations in 20 countries including Yemen, confirmed it conducted the strike, saying it “killed two al Qaeda operatives”. The attack hit a car, according to “local source”.

The US military announced a strike hit “near central Yemen” killing “one al Qaeda operative”. The information was released on August 2 – up until then the strike had gone unreported. There were few details in the Centcom release, which reads in full:

A possible US drone strike hit a car in central Mareb province, apparently injuring the four al Qaeda occupants. Tribal officials and local media reported the strike, which hit on the same day the exiled president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi visited the province.

July 16 2016
♦ 2-6 reported killed
♦ 0-2 reported injured

A US drone strike killed at least two people – all allegedly members of al Qaeda – according to Yemeni officials.

An August 2 press release from the US subsequently confirmed this was an American counter-terrorism strike. The US military release said the strike killed six al Qaeda operatives in a strike “near central Yemen”.

A two-cab SUV was reportedly hit and it may have been carrying ammunition. The strike hit a moving vehicle in the evening or at night, according to reports, a degree of precision that strongly suggests it was a US strike.

August 2 2016
♦ 3 children reported killed
♦ 2 reported injured

Spanish news agency EFE reported three children were killed in a possible US strike that also injured their parents.

August 4 2016
♦ 2-4 reported killed
♦ 2-4 reported injured

The US reported it believed it had killed three AQAP fighters in a strike in Shabwa, according to a Centcom issued a press release on August 5.

Earlier the same day, local and international news agencies reported a US strike killed between two and four people in Azzan, in Shabwa province.

The attack hit a vehicle reported to be carrying al Qaeda fighters when it stopped at a checkpoint in the city set-up by al Qaeda elements.

August 24 2016
♦ 4-5 reported killed

The US reported it had killed four AQAP fighters in a strike in Shabwa on August 24, according to a Centcom press release published on September 6. It was one of three “counter-terrorism strikes” against AQAP reported in the press release.

According to AFP, a security official said that a drone attack in Shabwa had killed four suspected members of al Qaeda in a car, described as a Toyota Hilux by Shabwaah Press, travelling on the road leading out of the provincial capital.

The Associated Press reported that the strike killed five people.

August 24 2016
♦ 3 reported killed

AFP also reported that three al Qaeda suspects had been killed when a drone attacked their car in Marib province, citing a security source.

August 30 2016
♦ 3 reported killed

The US reported it had killed three AQAP fighters in a strike in Shabwa, according to a Centcom press release published on September 6.

It was one of three “counter-terrorism strikes” against AQAP mentioned in the press release.

The men killed were named as Abu Shakha al-Awlaqi, Abu al-Bara’ al-Awlaqi and Abu Tha’ir al-Awlaqi by Dr Elisabeth Kendall in a tweet.

September 4 2016

♦ 6-9 reported killed

At least six people were killed in a US strike in Shabwah, according to a US Centcom press release on September 6.

It was not immediately clear if this was the same attack as international media reported hitting central Yemen on September 4.

Local residents and unnamed security officials told reporters an attack hit either a house or apartment block. However they said the strike hit in Marib, not Shabwah.

September 13 2016
♦ 5 reported killed

Five alleged al Qaeda operatives were reportedly killed by a US drone strike in the Radaa area of Bayda province when a vehicle they were travelling in was hit. US Central Command told the Bureau it could not confirm it carried out this strike.

September 20 2016
♦ 2 reported killed

AFP reported that a US drone strike in Yemen killed two suspected al Qaeda members while they were transporting munitions, which caused a large explosion.

A security official told AFP that Abu Yaqin Al Waeli, a local al Qaeda commander, had been killed in the attack.

The strike reportedly hit the Wadi Abida district of Marib province.

The US confirmed the strike in a press release published on September 28, adding that the strike hit Marib province and killed two AQAP operatives.

September 22 2016
♦ 2-3 reported killed

A senior leader of Yemen’s al Qaeda branch was reportedly killed in a US drone strike while travelling in a vehicle in Sawmaa district, Bayda province.

Reuters reported an unnamed security official saying that regional commander Abdallah al-Sanaani was killed alongside his bodyguard. AFP cited security officials saying that three al Qaeda suspects had been killed, including a mid-ranking commander who was not named.

The US confirmed the strike in a press release published on September 28, adding that the strike hit Bayda province and killed two AQAP operatives.

September 23 2016
♦ 3-5 reported killed

News sites reported that a suspected US drone strike killed at least three al Qaeda suspects in Marib province on Friday evening. According to Middle East Eye and Reuters, the strike killed Abu Khaled al Sanaani, a local AQAP commander.

A US military press release, published in late December, confirmed it was a military strike. It killed four, Centcom reported.

Reuters also said four al Qaeda members had been killed in the strike while Middle East Eye said that five members had died in the attack. AP said that three al Qaeda members were killed.

September 29 2016
♦ 2 reported killed

US Central Command said in a press release published on October 4 that it had struck an al Qaeda target on September 29 in a remote area of Baydah province, killing one alleged member and injuring another. A subsequent release, published in late December, corrected this, saying: “Originally, Centcom reported one death and one injured in the strike. It is now confirmed that the hospitalized terrorist later died of those injuries.”

Earlier reports from AFP and Reuters said that a drone strike had killed two senior members of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch in the same province. A government official reportedly told AFP they were killed while sitting under a tree.

October 6 2016
♦ 2 reported killed

US Central Command said in a press release published on October 21 that a strike on October 6 killed two alleged terrorists associated with AQAP in a remote area of the Shabwah Governorate.

October 12 2016
♦ Unknown killed

The US launched cruise missile strikes at three rebel targets in Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen early morning on October 12 following failed missile attacks on a US Navy ship.

A Pentagon press release published the same day reported that the strikes targeted radar sites involved in the recent missile launches and initial assessments showed that the sites had been destroyed.

Unnamed US officials told Reuters that the US Navy destroyer USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles around 4am local time and said that the radars were located in Ras Isa, north of Mukha and near Khoka.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the strikes were authorised by President Obama at the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford.

Although they represent the first time the US has directly targeted Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Pentagon stressed the limited nature of the strikes. Cook stated: “These limited self-defence strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation.”

Two missiles were fired at the USS Mason and the USS Ponce, an amphibious staging base, on Sunday but did not hit their targets. At least one other missile was fired at the Mason on Wednesday.

The Houthis denied Sunday’s attack but Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis said on Tuesday that “the facts certainly point” to Houthi responsibility.

October 18 2016
♦ 3-8 reported killed
♦ 2 reported injured

A drone strike reportedly hit two vehicles in Shabwah province on 18 September.

AFP reported security officials saying the strike killed eight suspected members of al Qaeda. Six of the alleged members were killed instantly and two others died later after sustaining wounds in the attack.

Local officials told Anadolu Agency that three suspected al Qaeda members were killed and two were injured. They added that the strike took place after al Qaeda fighters attacked a checkpoint manned by tribal fighters, killing one and injuring three others.

The US confirmed in a press release published on October 21 that it had conducted a strike on October 18 which killed six terrorists in a remote area of the Shabwah Governorate.

October 21 2016
♦ 5 reported killed

The US announced in a press release on October 26 that it had conducted a strike on October 21 killing five alleged al Qaeda members.

The strike hit a remote area of Marib province.

Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, later said that one of those killed in the strike was Abu Hadi al Bayhani, an AQAP leader in Azzan. Davis added that al Bayhani was “a capable and experienced operational planner” for the group in Yemen.

November 21 2016
♦ 1 reported killed

An unnamed local security source told Anadolu Agency that a drone strike hit a car in Bayda province carrying Al Abi, reported as a senior al Qaeda leader, killing him instantly. A US military statement in late December confirmed the US conducted this counter-terrorism attack. It listed several strikes that took place between September and December. The entry for this attack read: “a strike killed one AQAP operative in al Baydah governorate.”

November 24 2016
♦ 2 reported killed

A US military press release published in late December confirmed this as an American counter-terrorism attack that killed two al Qaeda fighters. The strike was originally reported by Xinhua news agency. An unnamed security official said two members of AQAP were killed in a US drone strike in Sawmaah district of Bayda province. The strike reportedly hit a motorcycle killing the two members instantly, including an alleged local commander.

November 30 2106
♦ 3 reported killed

This strike went unreported until late December when a US military press release declared: “A strike killed three AQAP operatives in Hadramout governorate.”

December 13 2016
 3-4 reported killed

Local officials told Reuters and Xinhua that a drone strike killed four suspected al Qaeda members while they were travelling on a road between Marib and al Jawf provinces. Reuters reported that the strike killed a local commander of the group.

A US press release, published in late December, confirmed this as a US military strike, saying it “killed three AQAP operatives in Marib.”

December 21 2016

 4 reported killed

A possible US strike reportedly killed three al Qaeda fighters in southern Yemen, a local security official said.

It was a night-time strike on a moving vehicle, strongly suggesting it was a US attack.

December 22 2016
The US military reported it believed it had killed 28 al Qaeda fighters across nine strikes in Yemen, between September 23 and December 13.

The release, from US Central Command (the regional command for the US war in Yemen), quoted Army Major Josh Jacques, a Centcom spokesperson, saying: “AQAP is a foreign terrorist organization with a history of attacks against the United States and its allies, including the Christmas Day 2009 attempted bombing of a commercial airliner in the U.S., and the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo office massacre in Paris.”

“Strikes against AQAP in Yemen pressure the terrorist network and hinder their ability to attack the US and our allies.”

One of the nine strikes had not been publicly reported before. It killed three AQAP fighters on November 30 in Hadramout, the release said. Two other strikes had been reported however there was insufficient information on them in the public domain for the Bureau to add them to the strike tally. US military confirmation means the November 20 and Novmber 24 strikes, both in al Bayda province, have now been included; so too have the three casualties reported by the US.

December 29 2016
 2 reported killed

A US strike in al Bayda province killed two AQAP operatives, according to a US Central Command press release published on January 12.

This confirmed earlier reports of a strike in the area. Xinhua news agency reported an unnamed local military official saying a drone strike had hit a vehicle killing Jalal al Saydi and Abu Bilal al Lawdari, two al Qaeda fighters. A security official told AFP that the strike killed al Saydi and his guard. The official described al Saydi as the “emir” of al Qaeda in the town of Loder.

This article was originally published on Yemen: Reported US covert actions 2016

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