Merry Christmas Yemen: US uses cover of holiday to rain down missiles

Source: Steve Watson

US Drone operators were able to kill around seven people in Yemen earlier this week before going home to celebrate the holidays on Christmas Eve with their families.

As blogger Kevin Gosztola notes:

There was no ceasefire from the Obama administration during the holiday. In fact, it appears they waited until Christmas Eve on purpose to conduct a couple strikes as there had not been action in the covert drone war in Yemen for well over a month.

In earlier wars, there may have been some kind of a truce because most of the soldiers and their families would be celebrating Christmas, however, characteristic of drone warfare, the drone pilots who carried out the order to fire upon suspected militants were nowhere near the area of the strike. They were completely detached and, depending on where they were when they directed the flying killer robot to attack, they were likely able to go home and see their family on Christmas Eve.

The strikes come in the same week that a new report released by Washington based think tank, The New America Foundation revealed that the number of drone strikes in Yemen almost tripled in 2012, compared to 2011.

In total, 53 known strikes were carried out this year, compared to 18 in 2011, AFP reported on Thursday.

The figures indicate that between 397 and 539 “militants” were killed in the attacks. It is not known how many of those killed were innocent civilians.

US officials did acknowledge for the first time this month, that a September drone attack in Yemen killed 12 civilians, including three children, who were all riding in one truck on a road close to the town of Radda.

The Washington Post reported that the Yemeni government tried to cover up the incident so as not to incite backlash against the US government. Yemeni officials had claimed that only militants were killed in the attack, but were forced to backtrack when families of the dead brought bodies to the gates of the presidential residence.

“Their bodies were burning,” recalled Sultan Ahmed Mohammed, 27, who was riding on the hood of the truck and flew headfirst into a sandy expanse. “How could this happen? None of us were al-Qaeda.”

The Post report notes that the attack has resulted directly in more militants joining existing groups in surrounding areas to fight the government.

“Our entire village is angry at the government and the Americans,” Mohammed said. “If the Americans are responsible, I would have no choice but to sympathize with al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda is fighting America.”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, has found that at least 171 civilians, including 35 children, have been slaughtered in Yemen by secret US drone strikes over the past ten years.

Communications released by WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that the US and Yemen have repeatedly attempted to cover up the use of US warplanes to bombard Yemen.