10 children dead in a midnight raid in Yemen

At 2:30AM on 29th January, 2017, US forces landed a few kilometers away from the village of Yakla. Residents of the village noticed that phone coverage ceased completely. Then airstrikes began—including the bombing of a medical unit, school, and a mosque in the village.[1] Statements collected by Reprieve and partners on the ground suggest that after the drone strikes, approximately 50 US soldiers entered the village.

Innocent people killed in the raid included: 

  • Ten children
  • An 80 year-old tribal elder
  • Abdullah Mabkhot Al-Ameri, who narrowly escaped death in 2013 when a US drone strike hit his wedding.[2]

The US forces entered the village and met 12-year-old Ahmed Abdullah Al-Dhahab, who asked who they were. They shot Ahmed, killing him on the spot.

US forces then stormed a small house belong to the Al-Ameri family and opened fire, killing three more children: Khadija, 7, Hussein, 5, and Aisha, 4. Hussein and Aisha’s father, Mohammed, was also killed.

Mohammed’s father, 62 year-old Abdullah Mabkhot Al-Ameri, was shot by US forces after running toward his son’s house. Abdullah was later found dead, still in his pajamas, clutching a blood-soaked headtorch.

As the US forces approached her home, Fateem Al-Ameri, mother of seven, ran away, carrying her two-year-old son Mohammed in her arms. She was shot in the back and fell forward.  Mohammed survived but was only found the next morning when Fateem’s body was moved; his face was covered in his mother’s blood.

The US forces then fired a missile into a third house which caused the house to catch fire, trapping five-year-old Halima Hussein Al-Aifa Al-Ameri inside, where she died.

A second US missile was fired at another house, causing the ceiling to collapse. The debris killed a 3-month-old girl, Ehsan Fahad Ali Al-Ameri, in her cot.

Grandmother Dhabia Ali Abdullah Al-Ameri and her two grandchildren – ten-year-old Mursil, and 12-year old Khaled – were fatally hit by US gunfire while fleeing their home.

The SEALs then advanced on the house of Abdul-Raouf al-Dhahab, where they were reportedly met with gunfire. Abdul-Raouf, his brother Sultan, and an eighty-year-old tribal elder, Saif Al-Jawfi, were killed, as was eight-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki and her mother.[3]

US SEAL Chief Petty Officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens was also killed, while two more US service members were injured when their helicopter “landed hard.”[4] The US team then used a missile to destroy the helicopter, to prevent it from “fall[ing] into enemy hands.” [5]

The raid decimated the village and destroyed the livelihoods of its inhabitants. Numerous houses were completely destroyed, and more than 120 goats, sheep and donkeys killed.




[1] Media reports have confirmed the use of drones in this operation. See Yemen Al Qaeda: U.S. Commandos Raid Stronghold, BBC, 29 January 2017; U.S. Commando Killed in Yemen in Trump’s First Counterterrorism Operation, New York Times, 29 January 2017.
[2] The Wedding that became a funeral: US still silent one year on from deadly Yemen drone strike, Newsweek, 12 December 2014.
[3] Donald Trump’s First U.S. Military Raid ‘Kills 30 Civilians, Including 10 Women and Children,’ Independent, 30 January 2017.
[4] In a Deadly Yemen Raid, a Lesson for Trump’s National Security Team, Washington Post, 31 January 2017.
[5] Id.