US air strike kills Qaeda ‘senior leader’ in Yemen: Pentagon

A US air strike in Yemen has killed a regional Al-Qaeda senior operative, the Pentagon said Friday.

The January 8 strike in the central province of Baida killed Abd al-Ghani al-Rasas of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

“This strike removes an AQAP senior leader and facilitator in the area and will disrupt AQAP’s terrorism operations in Yemen and the region,” he said in a statement.

AQAP and the Islamic State group have exploited a power vacuum created by a conflict between the government and Shiite Huthi rebels, in order 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 Huthis.