U.S. Central Command issued a statement on Monday, January 7 outlining the number of counterterrorism strikes it conducted in Yemen last year. According to CENTCOM, 36 airstrikes were sanctioned across the country in 2018, targeting al-Qaeda and Islamic State belligerents.
The U.S. conducted 10 airstrikes in January, six in February, seven in March, four in April, two in May, two in June, two in July, one in August, and two in September, according to Central Command. No airstrikes were conducted in the months of October, November or December.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported that the 36 strikes killed between 31-42 people, 8-15 of whom are thought to be civilians.
The airstrikes were said to have taken place in Abyan, al Bayda, Hadramawt, Shabwah and Zamakh governantes, CENTCOM said.
The U.S. first began to target Yemeni militants using drone strikes in 2002. This intensified after the amalgamation of al-Qaeda in Yemen and al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia to form al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2007. The presence of ISIS has further incentivised American intervention in Yemen.
The 2018 figures show a significant decline in the number of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen, down from 131 airstrikes conducted in the country the previous year.
Washington is not the only government involved in airstrikes in Yemen; the Yemeni Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force also continue to conduct strikes in the country. The U.S. has also maintained its support for the endeavours of the Yemeni government and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition endeavors against Houthi rebels.
On Sunday, CENTCOM said Jamal al-Badawi, the alleged perpetrator of the 2000 USS Cole attack, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen in earlier this month.
Badawi, a legacy al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, was killed in an airstrike in Marib governorate on January 1, the command said.
Badawi was indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury in 2003, charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including the murder of U.S. nationals and U.S. military personnel, and was also charged with attempting with co-conspirators to attack a U.S. Navy vessel in January 2000, according to CENTCOM spokesperson Captain Bill Urban.