At least 12 people have been killed in two US drone strikes in Yemen’s southern provinces.
Six of the fatalities – all of whom were reportedly al-Qaeda militants – were killed in a US drone raid in the Maraqesha district of Abyan Province early on Thursday.
Among the dead was Jalal Belaidi, alias Abu Hamza, a senior commander of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based branch of the militant group.
At least six people were killed in another US drone attack in Shabwa Province of Yemen, a security official said. The drone targeted a vehicle belonging to al-Qaeda militants in the Rudum district of the province late on Wednesday, killing all the occupants, the unnamed official said.
The United States carries out drone attacks in Yemen and several other Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. The US claims the drones target al-Qaeda militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the raids.
The US drone strikes come as Saudi Arabia is waging a war on Yemen. Saudi Arabia started the war in late March last year in a supposed bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and bring fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power.
On Thursday, Saudi fighter jets bombarded various areas across the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, killing and injuring an unknown number of people.
Saudi Arabia’s assaults against Yemen have so far claimed the lives of some 8,300 people and injured over 16,000 others.
The AQAP has exploited the volatile atmosphere and the breakdown of security in Yemen since the beginning of the Saudi war to tighten its grip on areas in the southeast of the country.
The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, too, has gained ground in and around the main southern city of Aden.
Ansarullah fighters, along with allied army units, are fighting the Takfiri militants as well as the Saudi aggression against war-torn Yemen.