An attack on a village in Yemen ordered by President Trump on Sunday caused the death of a newborn baby, alongside as many as 23 civilians, human rights organization Reprieve has discovered.
The Trump Administration oversaw a series of drone strikes and a ground raid on the village of Yakla, Yemen, on Sunday (29th). The Administration initially downplayed reports of civilian casualties, including the death of an eight-year old girl. Yesterday, however, US officials conceded that civilians were “likely killed.”
Reprieve has obtained evidence that many as 23 civilians were killed in the US raid, including a newborn baby boy, and ten children. The heavily pregnant mother was shot in the stomach during the raid, and subsequently gave birth to an injured baby boy, according to local reports. The baby died on Tuesday 31st.
Among the adult civilians killed in the raid, Reprieve has counted an 80-year-old man, and a man who narrowly escaped death in 2013 when a US drone strike hit his wedding. The ‘wedding strike’ killed 15 guests, after their party was mistaken for an al-Qaida convoy. Officials later described it as a “mistake.”
The US military has said that President Trump personally approved Sunday’s raid, despite concerns over the quality of the intelligence behind it. A former US official told the Guardian that the intelligence for the raid had been reviewed before Mr Trump came to power, but that it “was not judged strong enough to justify the risks.” They added: “The case was left to the incoming Trump administration to make its own judgment.”
Separately, an anonymous US official has told NBC that “almost everything went wrong” on Sunday.
Secret US strikes, in countries where the US is not at war, are widely considered to violate international law. Previous research by Reprieve has found that, in attempts to kill 41 named individuals in Yemen and Pakistan, US strikes killed some 1,147 unknown men, women and children.
On the campaign trail, Mr Trump said he supported the killing of family members of individuals being targeted by the US. He told Fox News: “When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.”
Commenting, Jennifer Gibson – Reprieve Drones and Kill List Project Lead – said: “Americans should be appalled that President Trump’s excesses now include the death of a baby, and attacks on pregnant women and elderly people, in a country where the US is not at war. Make no mistake – secret raids that kill small children will do nothing to make Americans safer. Trump’s allies – both in the US, and in countries like the UK – must urgently persuade him to scale back on this disastrous use of his executive powers.”
Notes to editors
1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 7792 351 660. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.