Drone Strike Kills Six Suspected Al-Qaeda Militants in Yemen

0402 Yemen drone strike kills al qaeda militants.
Soldiers and tribal fighters loyal to Yemen's government secure a road they took over from Houthi militants in Furdhat Nihem area near the capital Sanaa, February 3. Al-Qaeda has been taking advantage of the conflict to grab territory in the region. Ali Owidha/Reuters

A drone strike killed six suspected al Qaeda militants in an overnight attack in eastern Yemen, tribal sources said on Thursday.

The apparent U.S. drone strike targeted a car traveling in al Rawda city in Shabwa province, a remote desert area where al Qaeda militants are believed to be operating. The province has been targeted by drone strikes this year.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of a conflict pitting Houthi militiamen against forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to grab territory and operate more openly.

Dozens of al Qaeda militants reclaimed the town of Azzan in Yemen's Shabwa province on Monday, residents said, exploiting a security vacuum.

The United States has kept up a drone campaign against the militants, adding to near-daily air strikes by a Saudi-led Gulf Arab coalition, which intervened in the war last March to rout the Iran-backed Houthis and restore Hadi's government.

Suspected U.S. drone strikes, which normally use Hellfire missiles, have killed some of AQAP's top leaders, including its chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi last June.