NBC: U.S. fired on al-Qaida targets in Yemen
Warships launched missiles on Obama’s order in joint operation with ally
SAN’A, Yemen – U.S. Navy warships fired missiles at suspected al-Qaida training camps in Yemen, with that government’s support, Pentagon sources tell NBC News.
One U.S. official said President Barack Obama personally ordered the missile strikes in northern Yemen.
Yemen’s government on Thursday said it had launched an attack on al-Qaida camps in the south, killing at least 34 suspected militants.
Witnesses, however, put the number killed at more than 60 in the heaviest strike and said the dead were mostly civilians, including women and children. They denied the target was an al-Qaida stronghold, and one provincial official said only 10 militant suspects died.
The United States has repeatedly called on Yemen to take stronger action against al-Qaida, whose fighters have increasingly found refuge here in the past year. Worries over the growing presence are compounded by fears that Yemen could collapse into turmoil from its multiple conflicts and increasing poverty and become another Afghanistan, giving the militants even freer rein.
If that happens, al-Qaida would have a foothold bordering U.S. ally Saudi Arabia and near other oil-rich states. Already militants in Yemen have crossed into Saudi Arabia to conduct some operations, including an attempt this year to assassinate the deputy interior minister.
Moreover, Yemen is located on a strategic maritime crossroad at the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the access point to the Suez Canal — and across the Gulf is Somalia, an even more tumultuous nation where the U.S. has said al-Qaida militants have been increasing their activity.
Shiites, separatists also a threat
At the same time, Yemen’s government is facing an escalating war with Shiite rebels in the north and clashes with separatists in the south. The San’a government already has little control in much of the mountainous nation, the poorest in the Arab world, where tribes hold sway.
In Thursday’s biggest assault, warplanes and security forces on the ground attacked what authorities said was an al-Qaida training camp in the area of Mahsad in the southern province of Abyan. Saleh el-Shamsy, a provincial security official, said at least 30 suspected militants were killed.
Elsewhere, government forces killed four would-be suicide bombers and arrested 17 militants in a raid in the Arhab district northeast of the capital, the Interior Ministry said. The bombers “planned to strike at schools as well as interests at home and abroad,” the ministry said, without elaborating.
While Obama has US troops fighting with one hand tied behind their back, he took the gloves off today and ordered strikes in Yemen. Must be to help his Saudi buddies out.