US officials have finally acknowledged responsibility for a September assassination drone attack in Yemen that killed civilians, including women and children, after futile attempts by the Yemeni government to falsely claim blame in a bid to cover-up the American involvement.
The Yemeni government initially announced that “its Soviet-era jets” had carried out the September 2 attack, killing alleged al-Qaeda militants, but the country’s tribal leaders and officials later admitted that it was an American assassination drone strike that caused the killing and that “all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen,” The Washington Post
reported in a Tuesday article.
US officials, the daily notes, acknowledged last week “for the first time that it was an American strike.”
According to the report, over three month after the deadly US terror drone strike, the incident sheds light into “the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults.”
Three weeks after the Radda strike, US-sponsored Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi visited Washington and “praised the accuracy of US [assassination] drone strikes” in an interview with Washington Post
editors and reporters, as well as publicly,” the daily notes.
“They pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error, if you know what target you’re aiming at,” Hadi reportedly said to an audience at US think tank, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Washington played a key role in ousting Yemen’s former President Saleh and installing his ex-defense minister Hadi, the daily further adds, noting that the United States provides the Yemeni regime with “hundreds of millions of dollars” in military and “counterterrorism assistance.”
“US officials regard Hadi as an even stauncher counterterrorism ally than [former US-sponsored ruler Ali Abdullah] Saleh.”
US assassination aerial strikes have murdered numerous civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world, the daily confirms, adding that “those governments have spoken against the [drone] attacks.”
“But in Yemen, the weak government has often tried to hide civilian casualties from the public, fearing repercussions in a nation where hostility toward US policies in widespread. It continues to insist in local media reports that its own aging jets attacked the truck.”
The US daily also refers to another US terror drone strike in 2009 in which the Yemeni regime claimed responsibility for. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” said a US Embassy e-mail leaked by the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks, quoting then Yemeni ruler Saleh as telling the head of US Central Command at the time, General David Petraeus.
This is while the Obama administration has publicly remained silent about the deadly strike, “neither confirming nor denying any involvement, a standard practice with most US airstrikes in its clandestine counterterrorism fight in this strategic Middle Eastern country,” the Post underlines.
The daily further quotes unnamed US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as confirming that “it was a Defense Department aircraft, either a drone or a fixed-wing warplane, that fired on the truck [in the Radda attack].” It notes that the Pentagon, as well as “senior US officials in Yemen and senior counterterrorism officials in Washington,” have declined to comment on the incident.
Meanwhile, the reports reiterated, public outrage is growing in Yemen as demands “for accountability, transparency and compensation go unanswered amid allegations by human rights activists and lawmakers that the government is trying to cover up the attack to protect its relationship with Washington.”
Even “senior Yemeni officials said they fear that the backlash could undermine their authority,” the daily added.