A US drone strike killed two suspected members of Al-Qaeda in southern Yemen today, a security official said, as Washington steps up a campaign against jihadists.
A US drone strike killed two suspected members of Al-Qaeda in southern Yemen today, a security official said, as Washington steps up a campaign against jihadists. The raid came after two days of intensive air strikes by US warplanes on jihadists in the war-torn country. The raid in Ahwar, in the southern province of Abyan, killed two suspected jihadists on a motorbike, the security official said. The Pentagon said yesterday it carried out “somewhere over 30” strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in two days, conducted in partnership with the Yemeni government.
“This is part of a plan to go after this very real threat and ensure that they are defeated and denied the opportunity to plot and carry out terrorist attacks from ungoverned spaces,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said yesterday, noting America would continue to attack AQAP. Yemeni officials and tribal sources said at least 20 jihadists were killed in the air strikes on Thursday and yesterday in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa and the nearby central province of Baida.
The increased bombing comes a little more than a month after a botched American raid against AQAP left multiple civilians and a US Navy SEAL dead. The January 29 raid was the first authorised by President Donald Trump, and he drew criticism after he blamed “the generals” for having “lost” Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. Al-Qaeda has exploited a power vacuum created by two years of war between Yemen’s government and Shiite rebels who control the capital to consolidate its presence, particularly in the south and east.
The United States periodically sends small teams of commandos into Yemen, primarily to gather intel, but Davis said no Americans had been involved in any ground combat operations as part of the strikes. Successive American administrations have kept up a drone war against Al-Qaeda in Yemen since soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Washington regards the Yemen branch to be the jihadists’ most dangerous, and holds it responsible for several plots to stage attacks in the West.