A suspected US airstrike killed four al-Qaida operatives in Yemen’s eastern province of Marib today, Yemeni tribal and security officials said. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media, say the operatives killed were driving a car when an unmanned aircraft targeted their vehicle. Two of the men killed were identified as belonging to one of the local tribes, the others remain unidentified. The airstrike comes less than a day after a similar strike killed three al-Qaida members in the neighbouring province of Shabwa.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, seen by Washington as among the most dangerous branches of the global terror network, has exploited the chaos of Yemen’s civil war, seizing territory in the south and east. In a separate development, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman met with the president of Yemen’s internationally recognised government, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, yesterday. The meeting comes after Hadi fired a Cabinet minister and the governor of the southern port city of Aden. The two figures were known to be close to the United Arab Emirates, a key member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen since 2015.
Government officials said the meeting was unplanned but was set by the Saudi king to ease tensions between the UAE and Hadi over allegations by the Yemeni president that the Emiratis are inciting Yemeni officials to refuse carrying out presidential decisions. Hadi sees this as UAE violating his country’s sovereignty.