Five members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were killed in a U.S. military strike last week in Yemen, U.S. Central Command said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Oct 21 strike that targeted militants in a remote area of Marib Governorate in central Yemen was the third American airstrike against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in October. A strike on Oct 18 killed six militants and another on Oct 6 killed two, according to Central Command releases.

The United States has long targeted al-Qaida fighters in Yemen, where the group has taken advantage of a chaotic civil war to gain its own territory to plot terrorist operations.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who control much of northern Yemen, have been fighting the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, backed by American allies including Saudi Arabia, since March 2015.

Al-Qaida has gained territory during the war, and it remains a "serious threat" to western nations including the United States, said Army Maj. Josh T. Jacques, a Central Command spokesman.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, in which 12 people were killed.

On Oct 11, the USS Nitze destroyed three Houthi radar sites off the Red Sea coast with Tomahawk missiles after the rebels were accused of firing cruise missiles at another American warship off Yemen's coast.

AQAP "remains a significant threat to the region and to the United States," Jacques said.

The militants' "presence has a destabilising effect on Yemen, and we are working to deny them a haven from which to plan future attacks".

The suspected AQAP members' names were not released.

AQAP and Daesh group have exploited a power vacuum created by a conflict between the government and Houthi rebels to expand their presence in Yemen, especially in the south and southeast.

US operations against AQAP in Yemen are separate from a Saudi-led coalition campaign against the Houthis.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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