Secret US military review of Trump’s Yemen raid dismisses eyewitness accounts, underestimates the dead

Press release: Thursday 9th March

A top American military commander today announced that he has completed a secret, internal review of Donald Trump’s first military raid – an operation in Yakla, Yemen, that killed a Navy SEAL and up to 23 Yemenis – and concluded there were no lapses in judgment surrounding the operation.

The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a separate investigation into civilian casualties found that between four and 12 innocent people were killed.

This is despite the fact that independent investigations (by Reprieve and others) show ten children died in the raid – including two babies and eight children 12 years and under – in addition to an 80 year old tribal elder and several women.

General Votel said he sees no need for additional investigations.

Commenting, Reprieve attorney Jennifer Gibson, who represents some of the families of those killed in the raid, said

“Eight Yemeni children lost their lives to President Trump’s botched midnight raid on their village, and today their families were delivered another blow: President Trump’s government has conducted a secret, internal review and determined they don’t count as innocents.

“A secret, internal review that contradicts eyewitness accounts, re-classifies innocent children as combatants, and underestimates the number of dead is simply not good enough. Both the American and Yemeni bereaved families deserve more. They deserve to have their children counted among the dozens of innocents harmed. They deserve to know why their own eyewitness accounts have been discarded. And they deserve an apology.

“We urgently need an independent, transparent and full scale public investigation into just who was killed and what the decision-making process was that authorized such a mission. If this really was a recklessly planned catastrophe, as independent reports and the eyewitness accounts from Yakla suggest, then we must do everything in our power to make sure such mistakes don’t happen again.

“Only then can we begin to repair the damage done, and start a real conversation about how to make the US safer.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Gen. Joseph Votel’s comments are reported here.

2. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140.