US Stepping Up Covert War in Yemen

Airstrikes target militants as Yemeni troops return to capital
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2011 1:38 AM CDT
Updated Jun 9, 2011 7:56 AM CDT
US Stepping Up Covert War in Yemen
Yemeni anti-government protesters dance in Sanaa yesterday as they celebrate the departure of embattled president Ali Abdullah Saleh.   (Getty Images)

Chalk up yet another growing battle for America. The US has intensified its covert war against Islamic militants in Yemen during the nation's recent weeks of turmoil. Airstrikes and drone attacks have targeted al-Qaeda militants as Yemeni troops withdraw to the capital, officials tell the New York Times. American jets killed a mid-level al-Qaeda operative and several other militants last week, and an earlier drone attack targeted radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, officials say.

“We’ve seen the regime move its assets away from counterterrorism and toward its own survival,” explains a Yemen expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But as things get more and more chaotic in Yemen, the space for the Americans to operate in gets bigger." American officials say the Yemeni opposition has assured them that operations against al-Qaeda will continue no matter who emerges triumphant in the country's power struggle. (More US military stories.)

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