Just days after an apparent victory dance by Yemeni al-Qaida members, dozens of the militant fighters were killed Sunday in a U.S. drone strike against the terror organization’s Yemen affiliate.
Yemen says 55 al-Qaida suspects were killed in Sunday’s air raids – the latest in a string of strikes in the country.
An official with the Supreme Security Committee in Yemen told ABC News that an American drone strike on April 10 killed 10 members of al-Qaida. However, three civilians who “were in a pickup truck that suddenly appeared next to the car that was targeted” were also killed.
The next day three additional strikes “completely destroyed” an al-Qaida training facility.
Mohammed Albasha, a spokesperson for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, D.C., tweeted from his personal account Monday morning that 55 were killed in the strike.
— Mohammed Albasha (@Yemen411) April 21, 2014
A spokesperson for the Pentagon declined to address the strikes directly.
“I can’t speak to specific operations… but as you know we’ve got a very strong and collaborative relationship with the Yemeni government,” Col. Steve Warren told reporters. “We work closely together with them on various initiatives in the counterterrorism realm, but I don’t have any specifics to comment on.”
The strikes came just days after al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – released a propaganda video showing leader Nasir al-Wahishi speaking to armed men recently released from prison.
“The depiction of such a large gathering of fighters and the appearance of senior leaders are atypical of AQAP’s propaganda videos,” said an American official.
A State Department spokesperson says the video doesn’t necessarily depict a show of strength by the terror group, but said, “We know they’ve been gaining strength.”
However, U.S. officials have said AQAP is the most dangerous of the al-Qaida affiliates.
In a statement released today, the Yemeni government said they are in the process of determining the identities of those killed in the strikes.
Important to remember-even if #Yemen gov reports AQAP high value targets were killed, it'll take days to confirm identities via DNA tests
— Mohammed Jamjoom (@JamjoomCNN) April 21, 2014
Image via YouTube