U.S. drones, jets kill 8 fight­ers linked to al-Qaida in Ye­men

Strikes are part of mil­i­tary’s ex­panded air war in coun­try.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - Nasser Arrabyee and Mark Mazzetti ©2017 The New York Times

Amer­i­can drones and fighter jets hit sus­pected al-Qaida-af­fil­i­ated mil­i­tants in south­ern Ye­men early Thurs­day, killing at least eight fight­ers sleep­ing in a po­lice sta­tion they had over­run, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal res­i­dents and Amer­i­can and Ye­meni se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

The strikes were part of an ex­panded air war in Ye­men by the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary aimed at mil­i­tants who now con­trol large swaths of south­ern Ye­men amid a power strug­gle in the im­pov­er­ished desert coun­try.

In re­cent months, the U.S. has es­ca­lated a cam­paign of airstrikes car­ried out by the Pen­tagon’s Joint Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand with the as­sis­tance of the CIA.

The CIA is build­ing a base in the re­gion to serve as a hub for fu­ture op­er­a­tions in Ye­men.

Ac­cord­ing to both Amer­i­can and Ye­meni of­fi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the at­tacks in Ye­men are rarely ac­knowl­edged pub­licly, the strike on Thurs­day hit a po­lice sta­tion that had been oc­cu­pied by 20 mil­i­tant fight­ers in the town of Al Wadyia, in Abyan Province in south­ern Ye­men. One Ye­meni se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said that eight peo­ple had been killed, in­clud­ing the gath­er­ing’s leader, iden­ti­fied as Hadi Mo­ham­mad Ali.

Sep­a­rately, a per­son close to al-Qaida in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, the group re­spon­si­ble for a wave of vi­o­lence in Ye­men and sev­eral ter­ror­ist plots against the United States, said an Amer­i­can strike on Thurs­day hit a car thought to be car­ry­ing Fahd al-Qusaa, a leader of the group and a sus­pect in the 2000 bomb­ing of the Amer­i­can de­stroyer Cole. The per­son said that Qusaa and a group of aides had left the car mo­ments be­fore the at­tack, and lo­cal res­i­dents said he had sur­vived.

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials did not con­firm the at­tack against Qusaa.

Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials have said that mil­i­tants from Ye­men and nearby So­ma­lia have built op­er­a­tional ties over the past year as they try to ex­ploit the chaos in both coun­tries.

In Ye­men, the power strug­gle has par­a­lyzed the gov­ern­ment and al­lowed mil­i­tants to take over en­tire towns in the south.

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