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CENTCOM: US airstrikes in Yemen have killed 28 al-Qaida fighters since September

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 22, 2016

WASHINGTON – Twenty-eight al-Qaida linked fighters were killed in nine U.S. military airstrikes across Yemen since September, U.S. Central Command announced Thursday.

The strikes occurred between Sept. 23 and Dec. 13 and targeted the group’s Arabian Peninsula affiliate, which has taken advantage of civil war in Yemen to gain its own territory. Pentagon officials have said the group used the area to plot terrorist attacks on Western targets.

"Strikes against [al-Qaida] in Yemen pressure the terrorist network and hinder their ability to attack the U.S. and our allies,” said Army Maj. Josh T. Jacques, a Central Command spokesman.

Some of the airstrikes had been announced, including an Oct. 21 drone strike that the Pentagon said killed one of the group’s senior leaders and four other fighters. Abu Hadi al Bayhani, an experience operations planner, was killed in that attack in a remote area of Marib Governorate in central Yemen.

The other strikes announced Thursday were:

  • Sept. 23, in Marib Governorate near al-Bayda, four killed.
  • Sept. 29, in al Baydah Governorate, two killed.
  • Oct. 6, in Shabwah Governorate, two killed.
  • Oct. 18, in Shabwah, six killed.
  • Nov. 20, in al Baydah, one killed.
  • Nov. 24, in al Baydah, two killed.
  • Nov. 30, in Hadramawt Governorate, three killed.
  • Dec. 13, in Marib, three killed.

Yemen's civil war has lasted nearly two years, since Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who control much of northern Yemen, began fighting the recognized Yemeni government. Saudi Arabia and other American allies have backed Yemen's official government in the conflict.

The United States has long targeted al-Qaida fighters in Yemen. Earlier this year, the U.S. military deployed a small team of special operators to the country to provide medial and intelligence support to Emirati forces fighting the group.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, in which 12 people were killed.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com
Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

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