Nine US air strikes have killed 28 “terrorists” in Yemen since late September, the Pentagon has said. The US military’s Central Command said the strikes yesterday targeted Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives between September 23 and December 13.
“AQAP is a foreign terrorist organization with a history of attacks against the United States and its allies,” US military spokesman Major Josh Jacques said in a statement. Those attacks included “the Christmas Day 2009 attempted bombing of a commercial airliner in the US, and the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo office massacre in Paris,” he added.
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The so-called “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with explosives stuffed down his pants. Officials did not provide the names of any of those killed in the strikes.
AQAP and the Islamic State group have exploited a power vacuum created by a conflict between the government and Shiite Huthi rebels to expand their presence in Yemen, especially in the south and southeast. US operations against AQAP in Yemen are separate from a Saudi-led coalition campaign against the Huthis.
The Pentagon periodically puts out terse statements giving the numbers of suspected AQAP operatives it has killed in Yemen, but seldom provides additional details.