x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Yemen asks US for drones to help fight Al Qaeda

Yemen has asked the United States to supply it with drones to help it fight an Al Qaeda threat that recently forced western countries to temporarily close diplomatic missions in Sanaa.

SANAA // Yemen has asked the United States to supply it with drones to help it fight an Al Qaeda threat that recently forced western countries to temporarily close diplomatic missions in Sanaa.

The state news agency Saba also quoted the president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, as saying 40 Al Qaeda fighters had been killed in recent counter-terrorism operations and vowing to keep fighting the militants.

Mr Hadi, who came to power after months of turmoil forced Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, irked Yemenis last year by giving unequivocal support for Washington's controversial drone strikes, which have increased under the US president, Barack Obama.

"The drones that are conducting operations are part of the cooperation between us and the US," Mr Hadi said.

He said Yemen had allowed the US to undertake such operations because his country did not possess such technology to carry out "these precise military missions".

"I have discussed the issue of helping us acquire this technology with the US administration," Saba quoted Mr Hadi as saying, adding that the Yemeni army was capable of using drones.

The Yemeni army, with US backing, last year drove Al Qaeda militants and their allies from strongholds they seized during months of turmoil against Mr Saleh's rule.

But the militants have since regrouped and attacked government officials and installations.

Mr Hadi defended the use of drone strikes, saying they were more accurate than other methods.