U.S. admits review of drone strike on reported Yemen wedding party

Footage passed on to a human rights group shows graphic aftermath of a strike that enraged Yemenis

Published January 8, 2014 4:04PM (EST)

Marking a rare U.S. government confirmation of a drone strike review, NBC reported Wednesday that the Obama administration is carrying internal investigation into a December strike over Yemen, which reportedly struck a wedding party, killing 12.

A convoy of trucks struck by hellfire missiles on Dec. 12, according to Yemenis, was carrying civilian young men en route to a wedding. NBC obtained footage and video of the strike's aftermath, featuring graphic images of charred bodies. The footage was captured by Yemeni journalist Nasser Al-Sane and passed on to British human rights group Reprieve.

An anonymous U.S. official told NBC that it was due to claims of civilian casualties that an internal review was being carried out regarding the strike, which -- as with numerous other U.S. drone strikes -- enraged local Yemenis. The strike was part of the U.S. military, as opposed to the CIA. Comments from Yemenis and the U.S. admission of the necessity of a review highlight, once again, that drone strikes are far from a precise tactic, giving lie to claims that drone killings are "targeted killings."

Late last year, Human Rights Watch released a 97-page report on drone strikes in Yemen, which found that in six U.S. strikes alone, 57 out of 82 recorded casualties were deemed to be civilians. In one attack, three children and a pregnant woman were killed — a violation of a law of war that prohibits attacks that fail to discriminate between civilians and combatants.

“It is a total mess,” a Yemeni official speaking anonymously to NBC said. “It is completely not clear who was killed. This is should be a wake-up call to everyone involved [in drone strikes] to find out what’s going on.”

The journalist, Al-Sane, who captured the aftermath footage spoke more strongly still: "You cannot imagine how angry people are [about the strike]. They turned a wedding into a funeral.”

Via NBC:

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By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Civilian Deaths Drone Strike Drones Military Reprieve Video Wedding Yemen