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Pentagon: ‘Political Vacuum Enabled Qaeda to Expand in Yemen’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People inspect damage at a site hit by Saudi-led air strikes in the al Qaeda-held port of Mukalla city in southern Yemen April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Washington- Since al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the September 11, 2011 attacks on the United States and the US military campaigns did not stop, in an effort to stamp out the most dangerous terrorist organization.

One of the most prominent US campaigns against the organization is the one in Yemen, where the Qaeda’s branch in the Arabian Peninsula has been under a series of attacks aimed at destroying its ability to coordinate foreign terrorist attacks and preventing it from seizing areas controlled by the legitimate Yemeni government.

US Central Command spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told Asharq Al-Awsat that US forces have intensified their attacks on Qaeda strongholds and have launched more than 80 raids in the past four months.

Jacques stressed that they are keen to ensure the safety of innocent victims, pointing to “continuous coordination” with the legitimate government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The US military official said: “We have made progress, but we still have a lot to do. Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a huge terrorist group that is still capable of attacking our country and the US citizens.”

The Yemeni leadership is working with Arab allies to eliminate the Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from its provinces,” he added.

He pointed out that the United States has launched since 28 February more than 80 strikes on Qaeda militants, their infrastructure, combat sites and equipment.

“US forces also eliminated dozens of Qaeda terrorists from the battlefield in the Arabian Peninsula, including Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, the chief of the terrorist organization in Shabwa,” Jacques said.

“Awlaki was a senior commander in charge of planning terrorist attacks against civilians. He had significant influence in the organization, had connections with other senior leaders of the group and was involved in planning and leading efforts to exacerbate instability in southern Yemen,” he added.