Saudi jets ‘join US strikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen'
Saudi Arabia said to have secretly joined America's 'undeclared aerial war' against terrorists in Yemen
JETS from the Saudi Arabian air force have joined US forces in missions designed to eliminate al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, raising questions about America's "expanding programme of targeted killings", reports The Times.
Covert air strikes against targets in Yemen tripled last year and outnumbered similar attacks in Pakistan for the first time. The paper says the activity is stark evidence that the US has abandoned its "kill or capture" policy and adopted targeted killings because the legal issues created by the arrest or detention of hostile combatants had become "too onerous". Yemen has become a "template" for the elimination of militant threats worldwide, it says.
The death toll from the surgical strikes by US and Saudi jets in Yemen may be as high as 228 people, the Times says. Some of the attacks which have been described as "drone strikes" are actually missions carried out by Saudi aircraft.
The US is able to operate in Yemen with relative ease because the country's president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour, is co-operative and "officially claims responsibility" for every drone strike that occurs in his territory. However, Mansour has not admitted publicly that some of the strikes are being carried out, not by the US, but the Saudis.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the branch active in Yemen, is regarded as one of the terrorist organisation's most deadly wings, says American Thinker. AQAP has offered a reward of $160,000 in gold to anyone who kills America's ambassador to Yemen or any US soldier stationed in the country.
Drone attacks in the region are continuing unabated according to reports. An AQAP commander and two fighters were killed in the central Yemen province of Baydah yesterday by the first drone strike of year, says Longwarjournal.