More than Twenty US strikes target Yemen’s al-Qaeda in one day

Some twenty US airstrikes rained down on al-Qaeda targets in Yemen on Tuesday, the Pentagon said, adding that the strikes were coordinated with Yemen’s president.

“More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Baida and Shabwa,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement.

“The strikes were conducted in partnership with the government of Yemen, and were coordinated with President (Abedrabbo Mansour) Hadi.”

The strikes come barely a month after a botched American commando raid against the militants that left multiple civilians dead, including nine children and a US Navy SEAL.

A US official told AFP that Tuesday’s strikes had been planned months ago and were unrelated to the controversial raid, which the White House has repeatedly claimed was a success that yielded crucial intelligence, despite global condemnation.

“The raid was valuable, but the strikes were not directly related to it,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The strikes come barely a month after a botched American commando raid against the militants that left multiple civilians dead, including nine children and a US Navy SEAL.
Davis said Tuesday’s strikes targeted militants, equipment, infrastructure, heavy weapons systems and fighting positions.

“The strikes will degrade the AQAP’s ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to use territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen as a safe space for terror plotting,” he said.

AQAP and the Islamic State group have exploited a power vacuum created by a conflict between the government and Houthi rebels, in order to expand their presence in Yemen, especially in the south and southeast.

Al-Qaeda has long been the dominant militant force in Yemen, located next to oil-flush Saudi Arabia and key shipping lanes, but experts say IS is seeking to supplant its extremist rival.

Washington regards al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch as its most dangerous and has kept up a long-running drone war against its commanders.

US operations against AQAP in Yemen are separate from a Saudi-led coalition campaign against the Houthis, although the United States is providing logistical and other forms of support to the Arab coalition.

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