Officials say that a US drone strike hit the city of Mukalla, in southeastern Yemen overnight, hitting a parked vehicle in the provincial capital and killing seven people within.
The reports are identifying the slain as “suspected al-Qaeda militants,” though there has been no suggestion so far as to the identities of any of the slain, which is of course not uncommon in US strikes.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) took over Mukalla last week, and has been consolidating its gains in the surrounding area. That the vehicle was parked near the presidential palace may be the sole reason the slain are assumed to be with AQAP.
AQAP’s traditional power base in Yemen is the southern coast to the west of Aden, but the Saudi war against Yemen seems to be opening them up some opportunities to expand eastward.
It is noteworthy that while the US is participating in the Saudi war in a support role, and assisting in the naval blockade, their drones have so far only attacked AQAP, who are not a target in that war itself, meaning the US is effectively in two separate wars in Yemeni territory right now.