Suspected US drone strike kills three al-Qaida operatives in Yemen – report

  • As Israeli attack on Syria military camp kills three

Tribal and security officials said on Sunday a suspected US airstrike had killed three al-Qaida operatives on Yemen’s southern coast.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said the operatives killed in Shabwa province on Sunday were driving a car when an unmanned aircraft targeted their vehicle. Their bodies were not immediately identified.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), long seen by Washington as among the most dangerous branches of the global terror network, has exploited the chaos of the Yemen civil war, seizing territory in the south and east.

US drone strikes against Aqap targets have been frequent. In January, a botched raid by Navy Seals resulted in the death of one American commando and 25 civilians, including a young girl who was an American citizen.

Elsewhere in southern Yemen on Sunday, a local photographer working with Agence France-Presse was seriously wounded in a missile strike, his colleagues said.

Saleh al-Obeidi was in an armoured car with a pro-government officer when their vehicle was struck by a heat-guided missile near the government-held Red Sea town of Mokha, another journalist said.

The two men were evacuated by helicopter for medical treatment, he added. Another journalist said Obeidi suffered severe burns to his face and hands. It was not immediately possible to identify the source of the missile.

Pro-government forces are fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels and their allies, renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A Saudi-led coalition including the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in March 2015, to help the government retake the capital, Sana’a, and swaths of the country’s north and west.

Fighting has raged around Mokha in recent weeks as pro-government forces push a major offensive to drive rebels from the Red Sea coast.

The United Nations says the fighting has killed more than 7,700 people over the past two years. According to the International Federation of Journalists, at least eight journalists were killed in Yemen in 2016.

In the meantime, an Israeli attack on a Syrian training camp near the Golan Heights killed three members of a pro-government militia on Sunday, an official from the forces said.

The Al-Fawwar camp in Syria`s southwestern Quneitra province is used by the National Defence Forces (NDF), which command some 90,000 fighters across Syria.

The NDF official told AFP that two fighters were also wounded in the Israeli attack, but said it was unclear whether the damage was inflicted by an air strike or shelling.

Another Syrian source inside the training camp told AFP that around 6:00 am local time (0300 GMT), “security guards at the camp saw what looked like three fireballs coming towards the camp.”

“Then there were several consecutive blasts because of the explosion of ammunition warehouses” that firefighters worked hard to extinguish, the source said.

The source also said that they were “Israeli rockets” but could not specify what kind of missiles may have been used.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the attack had targeted a “weapons warehouse” in the camp.

Israel`s army declined to comment Sunday on the attack.

On Friday, the Israeli army said it targeted positions inside Syria in retaliation for mortar fire that hit the northern part of the Golan Heights.

At the time, Syria`s official news agency SANA said Israel had struck a Syrian army position in the province of Quneitra on the Golan plateau, “causing damage”.

The Syrian government labels rebel groups and jihadists fighting the regime as “terrorists” and accuses Israel of backing them.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Around 510 square kilometres of the Golan are under Syrian control.

The two countries are still technically at war, although the border remained largely quiet for decades until 2011, when the Syrian conflict broke out.

The Israeli side is hit sporadically by what are usually deemed to be stray rounds, and Israel has recently taken to opening fire in retaliation.

Guardian with additional report from Zee