On March 29, 2018, a Toyota Land Cruiser carrying five members of the Al Manthari family was travelling through the Yemeni province of Al Bayda, inland from the Gulf of Aden. The family were heading to the city of al-Sawma'ah to pick up a local elder to witness the sale of a plot of land. At two in the afternoon, a rocket from a US Predator drone hit the vehicle, killing three of its passengers. One of the four men killed, Mohamed Saleh al Manthari, had three children aged between one and six. His father, Saleh al Manthari, says Mohamed was the family's only breadwinner.
The United States military carried out its first ever drone strike against Qaeda militants in southern Libya this weekend, signaling a possibly significant expansion of the American counterterrorism campaign in the North African nation. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north -- eight since President Trump took office. In 2016, the military conducted nearly 500 airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt over several months to destroy the Islamic State's stronghold there. But the attack on Saturday that the military's Africa Command said had killed two militants -- later identified by a spokeswoman as belonging to Al Qaeda's branch in northwestern Africa -- took place in the country's southwest, a notorious haven for a deadly mix of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. "This appears to be the continuation of expanding AFRICOM activity in Libya's ungoverned areas," said Deborah K.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a conference at Buenos Aires' Town Hall, March 23, 2016. WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that "civilians were killed that shouldn't have been" in past U.S. drone strikes, but said the administration is now "very cautious" about striking where women or children are present. Obama was asked at a news conference about an increase in the number of people targeted in drone strikes against extremists in Libya, Syria, Somalia and elsewhere. "In the past, there was legitimate criticism that the legal architecture around the use of drone strikes wasn't as precise as it should have been," Obama said. "There's no doubt that civilians were killed that shouldn't have been."
The White House has said that up to 116 civilians have been killed by drone and other US strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya since Barack Obama took office in 2009, a figure that has been slammed by watchdog groups as an undercount, which suggests that the real figure could be as high as 1,100. Published by the Director of National Intelligence on Friday, the report said that between January 20, 2009, and December 31, 2015, the US carried out 473 strikes, which killed up to 2,581 "combatants" and anywhere from 64 to 116 civilians. The civilian casualties disclosed in the report were from nations not recognised as "battlefields," and did not reflect US air attacks in "areas of active hostilities" such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. Watchdog and rights groups have long claimed that the US administration does not know how many civilians it has killed and does not do enough to prevent civilian casualties when carrying out counterterrorism operations. Reprieve, an international human rights organisation, said the US government's previous statements about the drone programme have proven to be false by its own internal documents.