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US intensifies drone strikes in Yemen’s Baydha

Several Al Qaida and Daesh militants have been killed according to local activists in the province

Gulf News

Al Mukalla: US drones have carried out a string of strikes in Yemen’s central province of Baydha, killing several Al Qaida and Daesh militants as well as at least five civilians, residents and local media outlets said.

On Thursday morning, residents said that US drones and fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition launched heavy airstrikes on rugged mountains in Gayfa region in Baydha, apparently targeting Daesh and Al Qaida military camps or fugitive militants hiding there.

Residents said that the US drones hovered over Gayfa for hours on Wednesday evening and intermittently fired missiles at the mountains.

A local activist told Gulf News that US drones killed six militants on Monday when at least two missiles hit their car in Yakla region in Baydha’s Wald Rabea district.

“The targeted men were known as members of Al Qaida,” the activist said on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Military officials in Yemen believe that hundreds of Al Qaida and Daesh militants who deserted their former bastions in Abyan, Hadramout and Shabwa provinces are hiding in scattered villages or on rough mountains in Baydha.

Local media reports have recently said that three Al Qaida leaders in Shabwa were killed in recent drone strikes in Baydha.

Al Qaida has lost large swathes of land since early 2016 when thousands of UAE-supported Yemeni forces took control of major cities.

The recent US drone strikes have also killed five civilians, displaced residents and caused panic in the two areas.

The activist said that five civilians, mainly farmers, were killed in three separate air strikes this week.

“The air strikes have caused great panic among civilians. The targeted areas have no functioning schools or hospitals,” the activist said.

The US’s military which has long kept its drone missions in Yemen under wraps, announced last month the killing of dozens of Daesh militants in several drone strikes in the province of Baydha.

Also in Gayfa, witnesses said on Thursday that fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition targeted Al Houthi military sites amid raging fighting with government forces.

The air strikes destroyed ammunition stores, military equipment and Al Houthi militants’ gatherings in the areas.

“Coalition’s fighter jets hit Al Houthi militants who were battling local tribes in Gayfa on Wednesday.” a witness said, adding that the tribesmen managed to take control of Al Houthi positions after the airstrikes. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

Despite taking control of Baydha’s main cities, the Iran-backed Al Houthis have failed to defeat local tribesmen who mounted deadly attacks in the province.

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