Over the past few days, the US has been conducting a series of drone strikes over the past week in Yemen.
The US launched two drone strike in Yemen in the past 24 hours, killing 11 al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in areas in southern and central Yemen where the terror group is known to operate. The strikes take place as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is at the core of an al Qaeda plot that has forced the closure of more than 20 diplomatic facilities across the Middle East and Africa. The Yemeni government has also claimed it broke up several plots to attack oil facilities in the country.
AQAP leaders are known to operate in Shabwa; the province was under AQAP control from May 2011 until the summer of 2012, when the Yemeni military launched an offensive to wrest control of Shabwa from the terror group. Marib is also a stronghold of AQAP.
The US has stepped up attacks in Yemen; today’s strikes are the fifth and six in 11 days. The last strike took place yesterday in Marib province. An AQAP operative known as Saleh al-Tays al-Waeli is reported to be among those killed. Al Waeli’s name appeared on a list, published on Aug. 5, of Yemen’s 25 most-wanted terrorists who were plotting to conduct attacks in the capital of Sana’a and in a number of other governorates.
It remains to be seen if the drone strikes are taking out leaders and other key figures or are just killing lower level foot soldiers. Also, there are no reports of civilian deaths in this latest drone campaign.
Whether this is just a show of force or this campaign will actually have a long term impact remains to be seen.