Since January 2017, there has been a dramatic increase in US operations in Yemen, including a five-fold increase in the number of drone strikes and at least two ground raids. Reprieve’s investigations have revealed that both of these raids have led to large numbers of civilian causalities.
In January 2017, President Trump ordered a raid in Yemen, which led to the deaths of a US Navy SEAL and 23 civilians, including 10 children aged 12 and under. The raid was reckless, violated international law, and led to an appalling loss of life.
The raid – which was causally approved over dinner by President Trump – was a disaster from the start, with many Washington insiders expressing serious concerns about the quality of the intelligence behind it. While President Trump described the raid as a “win”, senior officials in his administration have said the raid produced “no significant intelligence” and that “almost everything went wrong” on the night in question.
Reprieve’s investigation has revealed the devastating human cost of the operation: 23 civilians were killed in this raid, including 10 children aged 12 years and under, an 80 year old man, and several women.
The Trump Administration conducted a secret internal review of the operation, which ignored eyewitness accounts, labelled innocent children as combatants, and underestimated the number of civilian casualties. The review concluded that there were no lapses in judgement surrounding the operation.
In May 2017, a second raid in Yemen was carried out by US forces. Reprieve’s investigation revealed that five civilians were killed during this operation, and six were seriously injured. One of these killed was Nasser al-Adhal, who was around 70 years old and partially blind. So far, the Trump Administration has yet to acknowledge a single civilian casualty.