Five Al Qaeda militants killed in drone strike in Yemen

US drone strike kills five suspected militants of Al Qaeda in their stronghold of Mukalla, Yemen

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An undated handout image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a unmanned MQ-1 Predator drone.

According to a government official, a US drone strike on a house in Mukalla, Yemen killed five members of the militant Al Qaeda on Thursday.

“A drone targeted a house where Al Qaeda militants were gathered for a meeting, destroying it and killing all five inside late on Wednesday," said the local official, who asked to remain anonymous.

US is the only country currently operating armed drones over Yemen’s airspace, and air strikes on the militants have continued amid months of fighting between Iranian-backed Houthi militias and armed Yemeni fighters loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Al Qaeda faction operating in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of Yemen’s chaotic state and is attempting to seize Mukalla, which is the main seaport and capital city of the vast desert province of the Hadramaut coastal region, located 480 kilometres east of Aden.

In another similar attack, US drone fired a missile, killing four other suspected members of AQAP militancy in Mukalla on Saturday as they drove across the tarmac of al Rayane airport.

The militant group had announced in June the death of their leader in Yemen, Nasir al Wuhayshi, also killed by a US drone strike.

According to officials this week, the AQAP militant group had deployed it's forces across the territory of Mukalla in anticipation of a possible operation by the Saudi-led military coalition, which is backing the Yemeni fighters loyal to Hadi government in their efforts to recapture the provincial capital.

A coalition of Arab states, allied with Hadi government has been bombarding the Houthi insurgency since late March, they also ran training programmes and dropped weapons for Yemeni fighters loyal to Hadi, but as of yet have not carried out any air strikes against the AQAP militants.

Houthi militants are allied with militants loyal to deposed president Ali Abbdullah Saleh and are backed by Iran with military equipment, including weapons, according to many of the Gulf countries, a claim Tehran rejects.

About 2,800 Yemeni troops backed by the Arab coalition arrived in Yemeni territory earlier last week.

The deployment was composed of Saudi special-operation forces, intelligence and logistics personnel, including units from the United Arab Emirates, according to reports.

The US has launched at least 120 drone strikes in Yemen since 2011, killing more than 700 people, of whom more than 90 were civilians.

Yemen has been suffering from an ongoing civil war since Hadi was deposed through a military coup by the Iranian-backed Houthis in February.

Ex-army officials loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh - who was also forced to resign during the Arab spring - had joined the Houthi militancy’s offence on the country.

War-torn Yemen is in dire need for humanitarian help due to shortages of food, medicine and fuel, since last March.

The UN has declared the situation in Yemen to be a level-three humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, after about 80 percent of the country’s population fell into dire need of humanitarian aid.

Twenty million people in the country are in need of aid, 13 million are facing food shortages and 9.4 million are having difficulties accessing drinking water.


TRTWorld and agencies