As the United States has increased the use of drones to stop al-Qaeda extremists from terrorizing Yemen, at least a third of those killed in the country this year were civilians.
The United States backs its Arab allies in Yemen against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group’s Yemeni affiliate, with weapons and logistics. The drone strikes limit the group’s movement and use of cellphone services but have also resulted in accidental deaths among civilians.
According to the Associated Press and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Trump administration carried out 176 strikes during its nearly two years of leadership. The groups recorded 154 strikes during the Obama administration’s eight years in office. Airstrikes this year killed about 88 people, with at least 30 not belonging to AQAP. One drone attack this year killed 14-year-old Yahia al-Hassbi as he tended goats several miles from a checkpoint al-Qaeda recently tried to capture. One other person also died in the strike.
Civilian casualties also increased as the United States targeted senior al-Qaeda members. U.S. raids killed at least 66 civilians, 31 of them children, in two attacks in 2009 and 2017 targeting Qassim al-Rimi, one of the group’s founders.
The war between the Saudi-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has killed more than 57,000 civilians, though multiple warring militias in the country make it more difficult to confirm the casualties. —O.O.