A Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Photo: AP)
ADEN, Yemen, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- At least six operatives of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch were killed in a U.S. drone strike in the central province of al-Bayda on Sunday, a security official told Xinhua.
The pilotless aircraft fired missiles at a location held by al-Qaida militants in Quraishah area of al-Bayda Province, leaving six terrorists killed at the scene, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Local media outlets also reported the U.S. drone attack on al-Qaida militants, saying the six killed included two mid-level commanders.
Local residents said the U.S. aircraft was hovering very low over the area for hours before launching the aerial bombardment against al-Qaida operatives.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which carries out sporadic attacks against Yemeni forces backed by the United Arab Emirates in the southern regions, neither denied nor confirmed the U.S. airstrike.
The AQAP network, mostly operating in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in the country.
The U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes against AQAP fighters in different provinces of the war-torn Arab country since U.S President Donald Trump approved expansion of military operations against the group.
The operations included intensified overnight airstrikes and ground military raids against the al-Qaida hideouts in the mountainous areas of al-Bayda and the southeastern province of Shabwa.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in southeastern provinces.