U.S. building secret Mideast region drone bases, officials say

By Published: September 21, 2011

The U.S. reliance on drones in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa is growing, with a network of clandestine bases being used to strike al-Qaida cells in Somalia and Yemen, The Washington Post reports.

Despite the weakening of al-Qaida's leadership in Pakistan and elsewhere, the establishment of such a network for counterterrorism missions underscores the concern U.S. officials have with al-Qaida activities in the region, according to the Post.

The U.S. government is known to have carried out drone attacks against high-value targets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

One of the more interesting locations for these secret drone bases is the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago, the Post reported.The pilotless drones showed in an experimental mission earlier this month that it could reach Somalia from this island nation located about 800 miles to the southeast.

Leaked WikiLeaks cables revealed the presence of these secret drone bases in the Seychelles and elsewhere, the Post reports.

An MQ-1C Gray Eagle armed with missiles revs up before leaving former Camp Taji, Iraq. Following the Nov. 25 incident along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the CIA has suspended some drone missions in the area.


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