Image US airstrike

Ongoing US strikes target al Qaeda in Yemen as civil war rages on

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US Defense Department acknowledges January 8th airstrike that killed a senior al Qaeda leader in Yemen.

“The United States remains committed to eradicating the threats posed by al-Qaida and denying them safe haven.”

Peter Cook, Pentagon Spokesperson

The airstrike happened during the night between January 7th January 8th in the remote area of al Bayda Governorate, Yemen, where US Intelligence sources on the ground had managed to acquire the whereabouts of a known high ranking al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP), Abd al-Ghani al-Rasas.

al-Rasas had been on the US terrorist watch list as a senior al Qaeda member since early 2014, and was a well known facilitator and planner for the Salafist Jihadist group.

The airstrike was carried out against a building US intelligence had identified and had eyes on al-Rasas, and there are at the present no reports of additional collateral from the strike.

Image al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula

The Pentagon spokesperson on the matter, Peter Cook, stated “This operation is an example of the U.S. government and our allies’ commitment to the people and the government of Yemen to detect, deter, disrupt and defeat violent extremists who threaten progress in the region, as well as threaten to conduct terrorist attacks against innocent people in the region and around the world.”

Since early 2015, Yemen has been unraveling due to a civil war that has killed thousands and forcefully displaced over 10 percent of the population. In what has become a humanitarian catastrophe, hundreds, mostly women and children, die every month due to malnutrition and lack of medical care.

Image Yemen civil war

AQAP has taken advantage of the disarray and increased its territory across the country, securing cities and providing alternative infrastructure. As a result of the group’s recent successes in the region, the US has focused its attention to a higher degree, and has begun carrying out an aggressive counter offensive using air and drone capabilities to take out leaders of the group. In January, the US has seemingly been involved in the direct actions and targeted killing of some 12 Salafist Jihadist fighters affiliated with the AQAP in Yemen alone.

Lima Charlie News reported on January 15th about the increased attention that the US Intelligence community is giving al Qaeda and its affiliated groups in the Levant. An intelligence and air capability offensive against the group has, in Syria alone, resulted in the death of over 50 jihadist fighters in the first week of 2017. The US has also deployed US Special Operations units on direct action missions to search and destroy al Qaeda fighters and leaders in recent weeks.

John Sjoholm, Middle East Bureau Chief, Lima Charlie News

John Sjoholm is the Lima Charlie’s Middle East Bureau Chief, and the founder of the consulting organization Erudite Group. He is a seasoned Middle East connoisseur, with a past in the Swedish Army’s Special Forces branch and the Security Contracting industry. He studied religion and languages in Sana’a, Yemen, and Cairo, Egypt. He lived and operated extensively in the Middle East between 2005-2012 as part of regional stabilizing projects, and currently resides in Jordan. Follow John on Twitter @JohnSjoholmLC

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