WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense said 28 suspected al-Qaida militants were killed in Yemen from Sept. 23 through Dec. 13 in airstrikes.
The nine drone strikes against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, operatives aimed to "pressure the terrorist network and hinder their ability to attack the U.S. and our allies," U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Maj. Josh T. Jacques said in a statement on Thursday.
"AQAP is a foreign terrorist organization with a history of attacks against the United States and its allies, including the Christmas Day 2009 attempted bombing of a commercial airliner in the U.S., and the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo office massacre in Paris," Jacques said.
Yemen is facing a complex conflict in which forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi rebels -- allegedly backed by Iran -- battle against the Aden-based government of Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States. The Islamic State and AQAP also have carried out attacks to further destabilize the country to advance their separate insurgent goals.