PENTAGON - A U.S. airstrike has killed three al-Qaida militants in Yemen, the Pentagon said Thursday.
The strike on June 16 targeted Abu Khattab al-Awlaqi, the terror group's emir in southern Yemen's Shabwah Governorate, and two of his associates.
The Pentagon said al-Awlaqi was responsible for planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against civilians. He also led efforts to promote instability in the war-torn country.
The strike was carried out "with full support of the government of Yemen," according to a statement from U.S. Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East.
The United States has long considered al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a major terror threat.
"Senior AQAP leaders seek safe haven in places like Shabwah Governorate to plot attacks against the U.S., our interest, and our friends and allies across the world," U.S. Central Command said.
AQAP attempted to send explosives-laden packages to the United States in 2010, and the year before, a Nigerian-born recruit of the group attempted to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on a flight bound for Detroit.