The Pentagon said late Tuesday that an airstrike on an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula camp killed dozens, an assessment verified by reporters in Yemen today.
Press secretary Peter Cook said the strike was conducted early Tuesday against a camp that “was located in the mountains, and was being used by more than 70 AQAP terrorists.”
“We continue to assess the results of the operation, but our initial assessment is that dozens of AQAP fighters have been removed from the battlefield,” Cook said in the statement. “This strike deals a blow to AQAP’s ability to use Yemen as a base for attacks that threaten U.S. persons, and it demonstrates our commitment to defeating al-Qa’ida and denying it safe haven.”
A Yemeni news outlet reported today that 48 AQAP militants were killed in the strike west of the sea port city of Mukalla.
More than 40 were said to be wounded in the attack. Al-Qaeda reportedly commandeered a local hospital to tend to their injured.
One media source reported that medical crews had difficultly retrieving some bodies because of “the intensity… of overflights for hours continuously over the crash site.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned the Senate Armed Services Committee last month that al-Qaeda is poised to make gains this year.
Clapper said the terror group’s network of affiliates has “proven resilient despite counterterrorism pressure.”
“Al-Qaeda’s affiliates are positioned to make gains in 2016,” the director said, citing al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the al-Nusra front in Syria as “the two most capable al-Qaeda branches.”