List of drone strikes in Yemen

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Drone strikes in Yemen
Part of the War on Terror
and the Yemeni Civil War (2015–present)
Date January 2002-present
Location Yemen


  • 113-144 drone strikes launched
  • 42 AQAP leaders killed[1]
  • Numerous AQAP bases destroyed

 United States


Other militant groups
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
0 891-1,124 militants killed[2] or
470-744 militants killed[3][4]
65-105 civilians killed[5][6][7]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, NATO tried to attack the Islamist militant presence in Yemen using drone warfare.[8]



On November 5, 2002, Al-Qaeda operatives in a car traveling through Yemen were killed in a targeted killing by a missile launched from a CIA-controlled Predator drone.[9]


In May 2010 an errant US drone attack targeting al Qaeda terrorists in Wadi Abida, Yemen, killed five people, among them Jaber al-Shabwani, deputy governor of Ma'rib Governorate who was mediating between the government and the militants. The killing so angered Shabwani's tribesmen that in the subsequent weeks they fought heavily with government security forces, twice attacking a major oil pipeline in Maarib.[10]


On May 5, 2011, a missile fired from a U.S. drone killed Abdullah and Mosaad Mubarak, brothers who may have been militants. The missile was fired on their car and both died instantly.[11][12] The strike was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, but al-Awlaki survived.[13]

On June 3, 2011 American manned jets or drones attacked and killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, a midlevel al-Qaeda operative, and several other militant suspects, including Ammar Abadah Nasser al-Wa'eli, in a strike in southern Yemen.[14] Four civilians were also reportedly killed in the strike. The strike was reportedly coordinated by American special forces and CIA operatives based in Sana.[15] According to the Associated Press, in 2011 the US government began building an airbase near or in Yemen from which the CIA and US military plans to operate drones over Yemen.[16][17] The Washington Post reported that the US previously used a base in Djibouti to operate drones over Yemen.[18] The Wall Street Journal reports that a US drone base in the Seychelles could be used to operate drones over Yemen.[19]

According to local residents and unnamed American and Yemeni government officials, on July 14, 2011 US manned aircraft or drones attacked and destroyed a police station in Mudiya in Abyan Province which had been occupied by al Qaeda militants. Yemeni media and government gave conflicting accounts on the number of casualties, estimated at between 6 and 50 killed. The same day and nearby, drone missiles reportedly hit a car belonging to Yemeni al Qaeda leader Fahd al-Quso, but al-Quso survived the attack.[20][21][22][23][24]

On August 1, 2011, US drones and reportedly Yemeni aircraft attacked three targets with bombs and missiles in South Yemen, killing 15 suspected al Qaeda militants and wounding 17 others. The locations targeted included al-Wahdah, al-Amodiah, and al-Khamilah in Abyan province. One of those killed was reportedly militant leader Naser al-Shadadi. According to the Yemen Post "At least 35 US drone attacks were reported in Yemen over the last two month."[25][26][27]

On August 24, 2011, unidentified aircraft attacked suspected al-Qaeda militants near Zinjibar. The strikes reportedly killed 30 militants and wounded 40 others.[28]

According to Yemeni officials as reported in the Long War Journal, US airstrikes in southeast Abyan province on August 30 to September 1, 2011 killed 30 AQAP militants. The militants were reportedly engaged in combat with Yemeni military forces.[29]

Two airstrikes by US-operated aircraft on September 21, 2011 reportedly killed four AQAP fighters in Abyan and seven AQAP fighters in Shaqra.[30]

On September 30, 2011, US drone-launched missiles killed four people, including Al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, in Al Jawf Governorate. The strike also killed Samir Khan, American-born editor of Inspire magazine. The strike marked the first known time that the US had deliberately targeted US citizens in a drone attack.[31]

A reported drone strike on militant hide-outs east of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan Governorate, on October 5, 2011 killed five AQAP militants.[32] According to Yemeni government officials, a US airstrike on October 14, 2011 killed seven AQAP militants, including Egyptian-born Ibrahim al-Bana, AQAP's media chief.[33]

On October 14, 2011, a similar drone strike killed al-Awlaki's 17-year-old son, Abdelrahman al-Awlaki and eight others.[34]

A drone strike on December 22, 2011 near Zinjibar reportedly killed Abdulrahman al-Wuhayshi, a relative of Yemeni al-Qaeda leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi. A further eight militants were reported killed in an air strike near Jaʿār, Abyan Governorate, on December 17, 2011.[35]


Yemeni Civil War (2012-03-11) Territory held by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and Ansar al-Sharia (tan) included much of eastern Yemen.

An airstrike, reportedly performed by US aircraft, on January 31, 2012 near the city of Lawder in Abyan province, killed 11 AQAP militants. The dead reportedly included Abdul Monem al-Fahtani, a participant in the USS Cole bombing.[36]

Drones engaged in three attacks over three days from March 9–11, 2012. The first strike targeted an AQAP hideout near Al Baydah, Baydah province, reportedly killing local AQAP leader Abdulwahhab al-Homaiqani and 16 of his militants. The second strike hit Jaʿār in Abyan province, reportedly killing 20 AQAP fighters. The third strike, also in Jaʿār, reportedly killed three AQAP militants and targeted a storage location for weapons AQAP had seized after overruning a Yemeni military base in Al Koud the week before.[37] A fourth drone strike on March 14, 2012 in Al Bydah reportedly killed four AQAP militants in a vehicle.[38]

On April 11, 14 militants were killed in a drone strike in Lauder town, northeast of Zinjibar, Abyan province.[39] A drone strike on April 22, in the Al Samadah area, near the border of Marib and Al Jawf provinces, killed AQAP senior leader Mohammed Saeed al Umda (also known as Ghareeb al Taizi).[40]

On May 6, 2012 a suspected US drone strike killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso and another al Qaida militant in southern Shabwah Governorate.[41]


On December 12, 2013, 17 people[42][43] were killed in a wedding convoy in the District of Rada' which falls in the Governorate of Al-Bayda'.[44] The U.S. drone mistakenly targeted a wedding convoy after intelligence reports identified the vehicles as carrying suspects of the AQAP organization.[45] Five of the killed had been suspected, but the remainder were civilians.[46]


Yemeni Civil War (2015-02-25) Territory held by AQAP (grey) included portions of many provinces in eastern Yemen.

On March 3, 2014 an airstrike, believed to have been carried out by an American drone, killed three people suspected of being members of AQAP. Mujahid Gaber Saleh al Shabwani, who is one of Yemen's 25 most wanted AQAP operatives, is thought to have been killed in the strike.[47]

On April 20 and 21, 2014, three drone strikes by the US government killed at least two dozen suspected AQAP members and destroyed one of the group's training camps in southern Yemen, according to a statement released by the Yemeni Interior Ministry. In a statement, the group admitted that five civilians had been wounded and three killed during the attack.[48]

On June 13, 2014 a suspected US drone strike targeted a car in the Mafraq al-Saeed area of the Shabwah province, killing five alleged AQAP operatives on board.[49]

Thus far, it is estimated that a total of 127 US drone attacks have been conducted in Yemen since 2002; 1 in 2002, 1 in 2010, 9 in 2011, 47 in 2012, 24 in 2013, 17 in 2014, 24 in 2015, and 4 in 2016. Additionally, 15 manned airstrikes have been conducted, though manned aircraft have only been used once since 2012.[50]


After the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, U.S. counterterrorism officials said the CIA was forced to scale back its operations in Yemen. Of the approximately 200 Americans based at the embassy, "dozens" were working for the CIA.[51]


Yemeni Civil War (current) Territory held by AQAP (white) extends westward primarily through Hadhramaut, Shabwah, Abyan, and Lahij Governorates.

The US confirmed 32 drone strikes in Yemen during 2016, resulting in 88 to 123 deaths; a further 10 or 11 reported strikes were not confirmed by the military; these resulted in 23 deaths.[52]

On March 22, a US drone strike close to the AQAP headquarter, the port city of Mukalla, capital of Hadhramaut Governorate, killed more than 40-50 fighters.[53]

On March 27, an US drone strike killed 8 AQAP fighters in the southern Abyan province, inside the group's territory.[54]

On October 21, US said it killed five AQAP fighters in an airstrike in Marib Province.[55]


On January 21, suspected U.S. drone strikes have killed three alleged al Qaeda operatives in Bayda province, security and tribal officials said.[56]

On March 4, US armed drones and warplanes conducted more than 30 airstrikes against suspected Al Qaeda positions in three Yemeni provinces.[57]


  1. ^ "Yemen Leaders Killed". New America Foundation. February 4, 2016. 740 15th Street, N.W., Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005.
  2. ^ New America Foundation, Drone Wars in Yemen. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  3. ^ "The Bureau of Investigative Journalism", Yemen Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  4. ^ Long War Journal, Yemen. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  5. ^ New America Foundation, Drone Wars in Yemen. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Bureau of Investigative Journalism", Yemen Fact Sheet. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 496-729 total killed, including 65-100 civilians (8-9 children).
  7. ^ Long War Journal, Yemen. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  8. ^ Al Qaeda Arrests Worldwide FOX News
  9. ^ Jeffrey Addicott (November 7, 2002), "The Yemen Attack: Illegal Assassination or Lawful Killing?", HTML, retrieved April 26, 2006 
  10. ^ "Drones spur Yemenis' distrust of government and U.S.". Reuters. October 27, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Suspected U.S. drone missile strike leaves 2 militants dead in Yemen". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "US drone 'kills two in attack on Saudi Qaeda chief'". Archived from the original on March 21, 2013. Retrieved January 25, 2017. 
  13. ^ Mazzetti, Mark, "Drone Strike In Yemen Was Aimed At Awlaki", New York Times, May 7, 2011, p. 11; Coker, Margaret, "Drone Targets Yemeni Cleric", Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2011, p. 1.
  14. ^ Roggio, Bill, "AQAP confirms deaths of 2 commanders in US airstrike", Long War Journal, July 21, 2011.
  15. ^ Mazzetti, Mark, "U.S. Is Intensifying A Secret Campaign Of Yemen Airstrikes", New York Times, June 9, 2011.
  16. ^ Associated Press, "Secret CIA drone base being built to target Yemen militants", Japan Times, June 16, 2011, p. 1.
  17. ^ DeYoung, Karen, "U.S. Air Attacks In Yemen Intensify", Washington Post, September 17, 2011, p. 1.
  18. ^ Whitlock, Craig, and Greg Miller, "U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say", Washington Post, September 21, 2011.
  19. ^ Barnes, Julian E., "U.S. Expands Drone Flights To Take Aim At East Africa", Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2011, p. 1.
  20. ^ Arrabyee, Nasser, and Mark Mazzetti, "U.S. Strikes In Yemen Said To Kill 8 Militants", New York Times, July 15, 2011, p. 9.
  21. ^ Roggio, Bill, "US airstrike kills 6 al Qaeda fighters in Yemen: report", Long War Journal, July 14, 2011.
  22. ^ "US airstrike kills 6 Islamic militants in Yemen". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2017. 
  23. ^ Arrabyee, Nasser; Mazzetti, Mark (July 14, 2011). "U.S. Strikes in Yemen Said to Kill 8 Militants". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ Whitlock, Craig, and Mohammed al-Qadhi, "Al-Qaeda Fugitive In Yemen Eludes Attack", Washington Post, July 16, 2011, p. 9.
  25. ^ Al-Qadhi, Mohammed, "Airstrikes Kill Militants In S. Yemen", Washington Post, August 2, 2011, p. 9.
  26. ^ Wan, William (August 2, 2011). "Militants killed in air attacks in south Yemen". The Washington Post. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ Al-Haj, Ahmed, Associated Press, "Yemen strikes kill 30 al-Qaida-linked fighters", Military Times, August 24, 2011.
  29. ^ Roggio, Bill, "US airstrikes in southern Yemen kill 30 AQAP fighters: report", Long War Journal, September 1, 2011.
  30. ^ Roggio, Bill, "US airstrikes kill AQAP fighters in southern Yemen", Long War Journal, September 22, 2011.
  31. ^ Almasmari, Hakim, Margaret Coker, and Siobhan Gorman, "Drone Kills Top Al Qaeda Figure", Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2011, p. 1.
  32. ^ "Drone Strike In Yemen". New York Times. October 6, 2011. 
  33. ^ Associated Press, "Yemen Says Local Al-Qaida Chief, 6 Others Killed", Arizona Daily Star, October 15, 2011.
  34. ^ LAURA KASINOF (October 15, 2011). "Strikes Hit Yemen as Violence Escalates in Capital". New York Times. 
  35. ^ "U.S. Drone Kills Yemen Al Qaeda Leader's Relative: Source". Reuters. December 23, 2011. 
  36. ^ DeYoung, Karen, "U.S. Airstrike Targets Al-Qaeda In Yemen", Washington Post, February 1, 2012, p. 10; Roggio, Bill, "US drone strike kills 11 AQAP leaders, fighters: report", Long War Journal, January 31, 2012.
  37. ^ Roggio, Bill, "US drone strike kills 3 AQAP fighters in Yemen", Long War Journal, March 12, 2012.
  38. ^ Roggio, Bill, "US drone strike kills 4 AQAP fighters", Long War Journal, March 15, 2012.
  39. ^ "U.S. drone kills 14 al-Qaida militants in Yemen's south". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  40. ^ Roggio, Bill, "AQAP confirms commander linked to Osama bin Laden killed in drone strike", Long War Journal, April 30, 2012.
  41. ^ Al-Haj, Ahmed (Associated Press), "Airstrike kills senior al-Qaida leader in Yemen", Yahoo! News, May 7, 2012.
  42. ^ "Yemen wedding convoy strike highlights civilian drone war toll". Yahoo News UK. December 13, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Drone strike in Yemen killed 17, mostly civilians". Your Middle East. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  44. ^ "US drone strike kills civilians in central Yemen". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Yemen says U.S. drone struck a wedding convoy, killing 14 -". CNN. December 13, 2013. 
  46. ^ Ali, Zaid; King, Laura (December 13, 2013). "U.S. drone strike on Yemen wedding party kills 17". Los Angeles Times. 
  47. ^ Bill Roggio: US kills 3 AQAP operatives in Yemen drone strike, March 3, 2014
  48. ^ Schmitt, Eric (April 21, 2014). "U.S. Drones and Yemeni Forces Kill Qaeda-Linked Fighters, Officials Say". The New York TImes. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  49. ^ "Five killed in Yemen drone strike". Al Jazeera. June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  50. ^ New America Foundation, Drone Wars in Yemen. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  51. ^ Greg Miller and Hugh Naylor (February 11, 2015). "CIA scales back presence and operations in Yemen, home of potent al-Qaeda affiliate". Washington Post. 
  52. ^ Searle. "Yemen: Reported US covert actions 2016". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 2017-02-21. 
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^ "US military kills 5 AQAP fighters in central Yemen". 
  56. ^ "Suspected U.S. drone strike kills three alleged al Qaeda members in Yemen, a first for Trump". CBS News. 
  57. ^ "Trump steps up airstrikes against Al Qaeda in Yemen; more ground raids could follow". Los Angeles Times. 4 March 2017. 

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