More US drone strikes on al-Qaeda positions in Yemen

More US drone strikes on al-Qaeda positions in Yemen
2 min read
19 April, 2017
Two US drone strikes killed five suspected al-Qaeda militants in Yemen on Tuesday night, as Trump intensifies the fight against the AQAP.
The US launched a drone campaign in Yemen in 2009 [Getty]

Five suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed in two US drone strikes in Yemen overnight, military sources said on Wednesday.

Two suspected militants were killed when one strike hit a vehicle in the southern province of Shabwa, sources said, while a second hit a car in Marib province, east of the rebel-held capital Sanaa, killing three.

Both Shabwa and Marib are largely held by Saudi-backed government forces but al-Qaeda - as well as the Islamic State group - have taken advantage of fighting to step up its presence in these regions.

Washington has sharply intensified its air war against the militants since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Yemeni security officials have reported dozens of suspected fighters killed in the strikes on Abyan and the neighbouring provinces of Shabwa and Baida.

A commando raid against al-Qaeda in Baida province was the first operation US President Donald Trump ordered after taking office in January.

The raid went badly wrong, resulting in the deaths of a US Navy SEAL and multiple civilians - including women and children - the Pentagon acknowledged.

On 3 April, the Pentagon said it had carried out more than 70 strikes against militant targets in Yemen since 28 February.

The US regards al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch - known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - as its most dangerous and accuses it of plotting multiple attacks against the West.

Last month, Trump reportedly gave the CIA new powers to authorise drone strikes against targets in the Middle East, without permission from the Pentagon.

More than two years of civil war have created a power vacuum that al-Qaeda has exploited to consolidate its presence.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen, according to the UN, since Saudi Arabia entered the conflict in March 2015 after Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa and overthrew President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The US has supported the Saudi-led coalition through weapons sales, air-to-air refueling of jets, and intelligence sharing.