US military admits injuring 2 civilians in Yemen drone strike, following a report that claimed there were dozens of incidents where innocent lives may have been lost

Yemeni men walk past a mural depicting a US drone and reading ‘ Why did you kill my family’ on December 13, 2013 in the capital Sanaa. MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images
  • The US military told Business Insider on Thursday that an internal review found it had injured two civilians in a 2017 drone strike in Yemen.
  • At the time, the strike was reported as killing three suspected al-Qaeda militants riding on a motorcycle.
  • An anonymous Twitter account initially reported the alleged civilian casualties, as noted by the monitoring group Airwars.
  • By the time President Trump leaves office, he will have likely overseen more US airstrikes in Yemen than all of his predecessors, combined.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US military has admitted responsibility for two more civilian casualties in Yemen following a report that claimed there were dozens of incidents where innocent lives may have been lost.

In a statement to Business Insider, Maj. John J. Risbee, a spokesperson for US Central Command, said the military had reviewed the report, from the monitoring group Airwars, and determined that a 2017 airstrike had indeed “caused injuries to two civilians.”

The attack, on September 14, was at the time reported as a drone strike that had killed three suspected al-Qaeda militants. The strike, according to a Yemeni security official who spoke to Reuters, “had targeted a motorcycle which the suspected militants were riding.”

There was no mention of civilian casualties. But, as noted by Airwars, a Twitter account focused on the conflict in Yemen had reported that a “passing vehicle was damaged,” causing unspecified injuries.

Airwars estimates that as many as 154 Yemeni civilians have been killed since President Trump took office in January 2017, including between 28 and 32 children. Just days after his inauguration, Trump ordered a disastrous early morning raid in Yemen that left an 8-year-old girl, who was a US citizen, dead.

In his statement, Maj. Risbee acknowledged “there may have been civilian casualties” during that raid. However, he said other allegations of civilian harm noted in the Airwars report “were not assessed as credible upon our review.”

In total, the US military estimates it has killed between four and 12 Yemeni civilians since 2017.

Trump’s first year in office was marked by a dramatic escalation of US airstrikes in Yemen, chiefly targeting al-Qaeda. In 2017, there were at least 127 US attacks in Yemen, according to the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism — nearly as many as occurred in the previous eight years of the Obama administration.

President Trump will likely have overseen more US airstrikes than all of his predecessors, combined.

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