US drone strike kills two al-Qaeda suspects in central Yemen

US drone strike kills two al-Qaeda suspects in central Yemen
A US drone strike has killed two al-Qaeda suspects in central Yemen, a security official said.
2 min read
18 February, 2018
Washington has carried out at least 235 drone strikes in Yemen since 2009 [Getty]

A US drone strike in central Yemen killed two suspected al-Qaeda members around midnight on Friday, reported AFP.

The unmanned aircraft struck a motorcycle carrying the two men in al-Bayda province. 

"The strike targeted two al-Qaeda militants, local commander Abu Hussein al-Theriya and another, Dawoud al-Sanaani, as they rode through the province," a security official told AFP

Although the US only sporadically reports on its bombing campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), it is the only force known to operate armed drones over Yemen.

The US carried out, in 2002, one drone strike under President George W Bush. Drone strikes resumed in 2009 under President Obama and have since intensified under President Trump.

To date, US drone strikes have killed more than 1,400 militants and 100 civilians in Yemen, according to a running tally by the New America think tank.

The US defines the term "militant" to refer to any military-aged male between 18–45 years of age.

The US backs Saudi Arabia in its military intervention in Yemen, which has pitted Houthi rebels against the exiled government headed by President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a Riyadh ally.

AQAP and the Islamic State group have flourished since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began in March 2015.

Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian disaster, according to the UN. At least 9,200 have died and there are up to one million suspected cholera cases in the country.

In the last ten weeks, 85,000 people have been displaced from their homes following surging violence across Yemen. 

The war has escalated since Houthi rebels in December killed Ali Abdullah Saleh, an ex-president, punishing him for seeking peace with the Saudi-led coalition.