As the Yemeni ceasefire was taking effect Friday night, US drones attacked a car in the southern port city of Mukalla, killing ten passengers in the car and wounding five others in the area. All the casualties were described as “al-Qaeda militants.”
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) indeed controls the city of Mukalla, which it seized early in the war during which Saudi Arabian attacks began on the Shi’ite Houthi forces. The US has since launched several strikes against the city.
By and large, the victims of US drone strikes are unnamed, though one AQAP leader was reported killed last week, which appears to have further emboldened the drone program to continue despite the lack of US spotters on the ground to tell what they’re shooting at.
US drone strikes have never been a particularly orderly affair, but since the withdrawal of US forces a few months ago it’s gotten even more haphazard, relying entirely on “signature strikes,” where they see multiple cars traveling or a meeting of a number of people and just assume they must be up to something. That they managed to kill an AQAP leader using this technique seems to have them doubling down and escalating the number of attacks at Mukalla.
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