PENTAGON - The U.S. military has announced several counterterrorism strikes in Yemen that were previously unreported and that killed a total of 15 al-Qaida militants.
That brings the total number of U.S. counterterrorism strikes in Yemen this year to nine, according to the Pentagon.
Col. Pat Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command which overseas military operations across the Middle East, told reporters Friday one of the airstrikes occurred May 19 in the Shabwah Governorate of central Yemen.
A February 3 strike in the same governorate killed six al-Qaida operatives. Two other strikes, one in February and one in March, targeted al-Qaida militants in eastern and central Yemen.
Ryder said al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, remains a significant threat.
He added the disclosure of the strikes was part of a decision by the military to “be more transparent,” particularly when the military has been highlighting strikes in Iraq and Syria.
“Going forward, our intent is to do this similar kind of thing,” he said.
The spokesman said delays might occur for future strike announcements to allow for intelligence gathering and operation assessment.
“Sometimes the chatter that comes after the strike allows us to collect more intelligence on adversaries and conduct future strikes,” Ryder said.
Intelligence officials have long considered AQAP as the most dangerous of the al-Qaida affiliates.
In 2010, AQAP attempted to send explosive-laden packages to the U.S. The year before, it sent Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight.