The United States has significantly ramped up drone attacks in Yemen in the last year, according to a report done by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The report concludes that drone attacks "against alleged militants in Yemen have risen steeply during the Arab spring, and are currently at the same level as the CIA’s controversial drone campaign" in Pakistan.
"At least 26 US military and CIA strikes involving cruise missiles, aircraft, drones or naval bombardments have taken place in the volatile Gulf nation to date, killing hundreds of alleged militants linked to the regional al Qaeda franchise," the report concluded. "But at least 54 civilians have died too, the study found."
There have been as many as 34 drone attacks in Yemen since May of 2011, the report said, which is more than the total number of drone attacks in the country going back 10 years. In total, a range of 275 – 516 have been killed by the attacks, and between 54 -104 of them have been civillians.
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Arab spring brings steep rise in US attacks in Yemen (the Bureau of Investigative Journalism):
All but one of the strikes have taken place under President Obama, who has taken a personal interest in the Yemen campaign. By the time he came to office al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had grown to become, in his words, ‘a network of violence and terror’ that had attracted a number of US citizens to its cause, including radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
AQAP even began publishing online propaganda magazines in English, and was behind a number of attempted terrorist attacks against the US, the UK and their allies.
With the CIA heavily engaged in Iraq and Pakistan, the job of crushing AQAP was handed to the Pentagon’s elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) – the same unit that had captured Saddam Hussein and would later kill Osama bin Laden.
But from the start, JSOC’s operations were mired in controversy.
Acting on intelligence that an AQAP meeting was taking place in the southern Yemen desert on December 17 2009, JSOC launched at least one cruise missile loaded with cluster bombs at the gathering. A Yemen parliamentary commission later found that 14 alleged militants died in the attack. But so too did 44 civilians.
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US drone raids in Yemen 'kill hundreds' (Al Jazeera English):
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