Yemen — In a shocking report released Tuesday, international human rights group Reprieve is claiming five of the seven “militants” killed in Yemen in an overnight raid by U.S. Navy SEALs were actually civilians — and that one of the victims was a partially blind elderly man.
In a statement released by U.S. Central Command, the military said the raid in eastern Yemen — confirmed by the Pentagon to be the “deepest” that U.S. special forces have penetrated into the country — took the lives of seven al-Qaeda fighters.
But Reprieve, which says it’s “spoken to sources from the village” where the raid occurred in the Marib province, is reporting that these witnesses were able to confirm the identities of the five villagers killed and say none of the dead had ties to terrorist groups.
One of the men killed, Nasser al-Adhal, was around 70 and partially blind, witnesses say. These sources say al-Adhal mistakenly took the Navy SEALs for visiting guests and went out to greet them — and that’s when the shooting started.
Reprieve describes what witnesses claim happened next:
“The four other villagers were killed when they started to argue with the Navy Seals after the shooting of Nasser al-Adhal. Six villagers were seriously injured, including another elderly man who was around 69-years-old.
“Al-Qaeda fighters gathering nearby, who are thought to have been the original target of the raid, were alerted by the gunshots in the village and firefight ensued in which at least two of them were killed. The Navy SEALs then left with the help of air support from a helicopter.”
Kate Higham, head of Reprieve’s Assassinations Programme, commented on the revelation:
“This new flawed raid by President Trump shows the US is not capable of distinguishing a terrorist from an innocent civilian. When a 70-year-old is shot dead, it is clear these attacks are not targeted or precise. President Trump must order an immediate investigation into what went wrong and halt all raids and drone strikes before more innocent Yemenis are killed.”
The news comes as it’s being reported that U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria have killed 225 civilians since April 23, including 36 women and 44 children. This is the highest one-month total of civilian casualties since the U.S. campaign against ISIS began in 2014.