The US carried out “targeted drone strikes” in Yemen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, killing a handful of al Qaeda militants, according to a US official and the Pentagon.
The strikes were aimed at al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and were the first such strikes to take place under President Donald Trump.
The strikes, which were later confirmed by the Pentagon, did not require Trump to sign off on them. Under then-President Barack Obama, the authority to order such strikes in Yemen was devolved to the four-star commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel.
The strikes killed five al Qaeda operatives and took place in the town of al Bayda, according to Pentagon spokesman US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.
“(Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) remains a significant threat to the region and the United States,” Davis said.
Yemen is currently beset by a civil war between Houthi rebels, a minority Shia group from the north of the country, and the internationally recognized government, led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Saudi Arabia is leading a military intervention against the Houthis in support of the government.
“(Al Qaeda) is using the unrest in Yemen to provide a haven from which to plan future attacks against the US and its interests,” Davis added, saying, “We remain committed to defeating (al Qaeda in Yemen) and denying it a safe haven.”