The government of Yemen has reportedly refused permission for the United States to carry out any further ground operations on its soil, after a US raid on a village saw several civilians killed, including children.
According to reports, two senior Yemeni officials said the country’s government had “sent a firm message to the US administration condemning the January 29 operation”, which took place in the village of Yakla. One Yemeni official said: “conducting a raid was the wrong option and failure was written all over it. The only side that gained is al Qaeda.”
The international human rights organisation Reprieve, which assists the civilian victims of covert US operations, has established that at least 23 civilians were killed during the secret raid. Among the civilian dead was a newborn baby, an eight year old girl and an 80 year old tribal elder. A US Navy Seal was also killed during the operation.
The US programme of covert attacks has drawn international criticism, as it takes place in countries where the US is not at war, and has led to hundreds of civilian casualties. A 2014 study by Reprieve found that previous secret attacks by the US have frequently missed their target; in Yemen and Pakistan, US attempts to target 41 named individuals led to the deaths of 1,147 unknown people, often leaving the ‘target’ unharmed.
Thw White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described the Yakla raid as “highly successful.” However, US officials have said privately that “almost everything went wrong” in the operation.
Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, Drones and Kill List Project Lead at Reprieve, said: “Not only did this ill-advised raid result in an appalling loss of civilian life – the fallout is now threatening our relations with allies. Let’s be clear – secret, unaccountable attacks that kill children on foreign soil will do nothing to make Americans safer. The President’s advisers must urge him to change course, before he does any more damage to the US’ standing abroad.”
* Read Reprieve's study on US drone programme attacks here
* Reprieve http://www.reprieve.org.uk/