US Drones Pound Yemen, But Targets Aren’t All Militants

Two Weeks of US Drone Strikes Kill 49 in Yemen

Everyone who gets killed in a drone strike by the US government in Yemen is officially labeled a “suspect.” That’s just the way Yemeni security forces do things But 12 distinct attacks in the last two weeks have killed 49, including a lot of apparent bystanders.

Indeed, of all the US strikes the administration was only willing to say that “at least 14” of the slain were al-Qaeda militants. That leaves 35 others who the locals say are just random civilians killed in strikes that are hitting civilian areas.

The backlash is growing in intensity as the strikes do, following a similar trend to the anti-US sentiment the strikes fueled across Pakistan, which eventually dominated this year’s election.

One civilian in the town of Jaar, just north of Zinjibar, reported taking his daughter from school to a nearby clinic for a doctor’s appointment. Hellfire missiles destroyed the clinic. He and his children fled back to the school to hide in the basement. The school, was then hit in a followup attack, destroying it and killing his daughter.

Such stories have been a constant feature of drone wars since they began, and where in previous conflicts the US would’ve tried to shrug off the killings as “collateral damage” these days they use an even more convenient term, “suspect.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.