Monday, October 29, 2012

US drones kill 4 AQAP fighters in rare strike in northern Yemen

US drones killed four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters in the first strike recorded against the terror group in northern Yemen. A local al Qaeda commander was targeted, and two Saudis are thought to be among those killed.
The unmanned Predators or Reapers fired several missiles at two compounds in the Abu Jabara area of Saada province today, Yemeni security officials and tribesmen told Reuters, which reported that four "militants" were killed. A local AQAP commander known as Hadi al Tais was said to be the target of the airstrike; it is unclear if he was killed.
According to The Associated Press, three AQAP fighters, including two Saudis, were killed in the attack that targeted a compound of "a wanted al Qaeda militant from another Yemeni province."
The strike is the first recorded against AQAP in northern Yemen since the US began targeting the terror group in late 2009. All of the other strikes have targeted AQAP's network and fighters in the southern provinces.
Saada is a hotspot where local Salafist groups, backed by AQAP and the government, battle the Houthis, a Shia separatist group that is supported by Iran. The Houthis, who are based in Al Jawf and Saada, have been fighting the Sunni government for years. In 2010, the Houthis also clashed with Saudi security forces along the northern border. Hundreds of Houthi fighters and Saudi troops were killed in the fighting.
In early December 2011, AQAP officially declared war on the Houthis. Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish, al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula's Mufti, issued the announcement and called the Shia a "virus" on the Sunni people. Rubaish was held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility before he was released in 2006. AQAP has conducted several suicide attacks against the Houthis, including an attack in December 2011 that killed a military commander, and another that killed 17 people, including a top Houthi leader and his son.

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