At least four people were killed today in a rare US drone strike against Shi’ite dominated Northern Yemen, with local officials terming the slain members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Yemeni Defense Ministry saying two of the slain were Saudi nationals.
AQAP is usually associated with the southern provinces of Yemen, as well as the tribal areas in the nation’s interior. The Saleh government encouraged Salafist Sunnis into the Shi’ite Saada Province over the past several years, however, and with the Shi’ite Houthi Army now in charge in the area the Salafists may make ideal recruits for AQAP.
Early reports on today’s attack suggests that the US was targeting local AQAP commander Hadi al-Tais in the attack, though whether or not he was present has been disputed, with some saying he was wounded and some saying he wasn’t there at all.
US drone strikes have become increasingly common in Yemen, though as with the attacks in Pakistan the administration only rarely publicly confirms them. The US is, however, the only nation flying drones over Yemen, so they aren’t much of a secret.
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