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Another suspected US drone strike kills Yemeni al-Qaeda suspect

The US has stepped up drone strikes in Yemen in recent months [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 6 April, 2017

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A suspected al-Qaeda militant has been killed in a drone strike in southern Yemen as Washington steps up its air war against the militant group.

A drone strike killed a suspected al-Qaeda militant in southern Yemen on Thursday as the US steps up its air war against the extremists.

The missile hit al-Qaeda provincial official Ahmed Ali Saana as he was riding a motorbike late on Wednesday in the town of Khabar al-Muraqasha in Abyan province, a major target of recent drone strikes, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon has confirmed more than 70 airstrikes on al-Qaeda targets in Yemen since 28 February.

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.

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

Last month, Trump reportedly gave the CIA new powers to authorise drone strikes against extremist targets in the Middle East independently of 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 since Saudi Arabia entered the conflict in March 2015 after Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sana'a and overthrew President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, according to the UN.

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

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