Two US drone strikes killed at least four suspected Al-Qaeda members in southern Yemen on Thursday, security officials said, barely a month after a controversial US commando raid against the militants.
"More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Baida and Shabwa", Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement. Those forces, however, did not conduct any raids, US officials said.
There was no major intelligence find so far from the raid, two defense officials told BuzzFeed News, but rather information that will help the U.S. understand the group better and plan future operations.
It has exploited a civil war in which the Iran-aligned Houthi movement is fighting the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is backed by US -aligned Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies. In that operation, one U.S. Navy Seal was killed, six American soldiers were wounded and a military aircraft suffered a hard landing and had to be destroyed.
Citing multiple unnamed US and Yemeni military sources, The New York Times reported the bombing raids targeted al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in three provinces: Abyan, Shabwa and Baydha. Such investigations are routinely conducted for the deaths of any deployed US military service member.
The official said the intelligence obtained in the raid, described in a three-page list, has provided insights into who the terror group is targeting.
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USA officials see AQAP, which has already tried to attack the United States directly, as one of the most unsafe militant threats they face.
Owens' father has called for an investigation into what happened.
Successive US administrations have kept up a drone war against Al-Qaeda in Yemen since soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The US military later denied allegations reported by the New York Times that the mission had been compromised, and that the commandos knew about this.
Al-Muhaysini is a prominent inner-leadership member of Jabhat Fath al-Sham, which used to be known as Al-Nusra Front - an al Qaeda affiliate.