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Poll: Most Americans Support Drone Strikes on Terrorists

FILE - An MQ-1B Predator from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off from Balad Air Base in Iraq.

Most Americans support drone strikes against terrorists, including when a known terrorist is a U.S. citizen, according to a new public opinion poll.

An Associated Press-GFK poll found "nearly three-quarters of Americans say it is acceptable for the U.S. to use an unmanned aerial drone to kill an American citizen abroad if that person has joined a terror organization."

The poll results come just over a week after the White House announced the killings of two Americans — one of them an al-Qaida member and the other a hostage — in two counterterrorism operations. An Italian man held hostage by al-Qaida also died in those operations.

President Barack Obama expressed his regret that the operation that killed an al-Qaida leader also killed the two hostages — American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. The terror network was holding the men on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

A U.S. official told VOA they were killed January 14 during airstrikes by unmanned drone aircraft. Adam Gadahn, an American who had served as an al-Qaida spokesman, was reported killed in a separate January operation.

The opinion survey was conducted April 23-27, after Obama's apology.

"A majority, 6 in 10, supports the use of drones to target terrorists in general," said an Associated Press news report on the poll Friday, while just 13 percent are against the use of drones and 24 percent do not have strong feelings either way.

The U.S. drone program, run by the Central Intelligence Agency, is not something officials acknowledge or discuss publicly.

U.S. officials say the attacks that killed U.S. citizens Farouq and Gadahn were not launched against them directly.

"While both Farouq and Gadahn were al-Qaida members, neither was specifically targeted," said last week's White House statement, and there was no "information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations."