Officials with Yemen’s Defense Ministry have confirmed that the US has been launching drone strikes on a daily basis against the nation in June, with more than 15 confirmed strikes already this month. The deputy governor of Abyan Province reports at least 130 killed in those attacks.
So far it is unclear who was killed in the strikes, but the deputy government said a number of innocent civilians were among the dead. Abyan Province has seen fighting over several towns between government forces and militant fighters, and it seems the US is using this fighting as cover for the drone campaign.
The announcement comes in the wake of several reports that the Obama Administration is looking to dramatically escalate its drone presence in the country, launching attacks against targets in the nation’s tribal dominated regions. It appears, however, that those strikes had already begun.
And may get worse yet. The Associated Press has a report that the US is building a secret CIA air base from which to launch drone attacks across the region. The site of the base was unclear, but reports that officials are concerned that the Yemeni regime may full suggest it may be outside of Yemen.
The US has a history of launching strikes against Yemeni targets, with President Saleh shrugging off such attacks and even helping the US cover up past civilian casualties. Those attacks were major, but extremely intermittent. Now that the attacks are a daily part of life in Yemen, the concerns about the unereliablility of US targeting is bound to again become an issue.