US airstrikes kill six al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen

US airstrikes kill six al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen
US airstrikes over the past week have killed six al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen, the US military said on Friday.
2 min read
19 June, 2016
The US military regularly targets al-Qaeda in Yemen [AFP]

Six al-Qaeda fighters were killed last week in three separate airstrikes in central Yemen, the US military said Friday.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) "remains a significant threat to the region, the United States and beyond," US Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, said in a statement.

"We remain committed to defeating AQAP and denying it safe haven regardless of its location."

The United States, which considers AQAP the most dangerous al-Qaeda branch, regularly conducts airstrikes against the jihadist group in Yemen, mostly using drones.

The first strike took place on June 8 in al-Bayda Governorate, killing two al-Qaeda operatives and destroying their weapons-laden vehicle, CENTCOM said.

A June 10 strike in Marib Governorate killed two fighters, while a June 12 strike in Shabwah Governorate killed two others.

AQAP has several thousand "adherents and fighters" in Yemen, where it is "very active," CIA Director John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

"There is an active effort underway to continue to dismantle and destroy that organisation."

There are also "several hundred" fighters loyal to the Islamic State group in Yemen, Brennan said.

AQAP has taken advantage of the country's civil conflict between Houthi rebels and Yemeni government forces to expand its influence in the country's south and southeast.

US soldiers had been deployed in Yemen until March 2015, when the last troops left the country in the face of a Houthi rebel advance.

However, a "very small number" of US soldiers recently returned to the southern port of Mukalla, retaken from AQAP in April, the Pentagon confirmed last month.