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Attack on Wedding Convoy One of the Worst in History of Drone War in Yemen

Photo of victims killed in drone strike on wedding convoy from Yemeni journalist & being circulated widely on social media.

A drone strike by the United States, which targeted a wedding convoy, reportedly killed anywhere from ten to seventeen people and injured as many as thirty individuals.

Most of the people killed were civilians, which makes the attack one of the worst in Yemen since the US began to launch drone strikes against people the government believes are senior operatives of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or militants, who are members of “associated forces” the government thinks it can link to al Qaeda.

Reuters reported the wedding convoy had been mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy. CNN quoted a “top Yemeni national security official who asked not to be named,” who said, “This was a tragic mistake and comes at a very critical time. None of the killed was a wanted suspect by the Yemeni government.”

According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), six to thirteen people killed in a drone in the province of al-Baydah near Radaa were civilians. Journalist Iona Craig reported for The Times in the UK that “up to a dozen vehicles” had been in the convoy.

Names of the dead were published by Al Masdar:

Hussein Mohammed Saleh Al Ameri, 65
Mohammed Ali Massad Al Ameri, 30
Ali Abdullah Mohammed Al Tays, 35
Zeidan Mohammed Al Ameri, 40
Saif Abdullah Mabkhout Al Ameri, 20
Hussein Mohammed Al Tays, 20
Motlaq Hamoud Mohammed Al Taysi, 45
Saleh Abdullah Mabkhout, 30
Aaref Mohammed Al Taysi, 30
Saleh Massad Al Ameri, 42
Massad Dayfallah Al Ameri, 25

An anonymous Yemeni security official claimed Mohammed Ali Massad Al Ameri was an al Qaeda militant. Another security official in Yemen claimed alleged al Qaeda members, Saleh al Tays and Abdullah al Tays, had been killed. Two prominent tribal sheikhs, Sheikh Abdullah al Taysi and Sheikh Ali Abdullah al Amiri.

President Barack Obama said in a speech on US drone and counterterrorism policy at the National Defense University in May, “Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured — the highest standard we can set.” If that standard was being followed, then what happened suggests those who launched the strike and officials, who signed off on the attack, believed with “near-certainty” none of the individuals in the convoy were “civilians.”

This drone strike is similar to strikes that have targeted funerals and individuals rescuing victims in the immediate aftermath of strikes. Such strikes are inarguably war crimes.

Eyes in the sky, drones, would have had the area under surveillance. They should have known that a wedding was taking place. It was possibly the plan to strike as the convoy was leaving the wedding. [cont’d.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."