U.S. strikes pound Qaeda for second day: Yemeni officials

- USA jets carried out dozens of airstrikes on al-Qaida targets in Yemen overnight and in the past 48 hours in one of the lengthiest, sustained operations inside this conflict-torn Arab country, Yemeni officials and residents said Friday.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said Al-Qaeda had taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct, and inspire terror attacks against America and its allies.

On Thursday, al-Qaida's branches in Yemen and North Africa put out a joint statement said al-Masri had been killed in a "Crusader strike" in Syria, calling it "another in the crimes of America and its Crusader alliance".

The aftermath of the Yemen raid exists in two separate dimensions right now. The granting of that authority for what is known in government jargon as an "area of active hostility" typically enables the military to launch strikes without a more lengthy approval process managed by the White House.

About a month ago a United States commando team conducted a failed raid against purported AQAP members in Al-Baida which resulted in killing nearly 40 persons according to Yemeni officials, however local media outlets said the that number was less than that. Those forces, however, did not conduct any raids, US officials said.

The missions were the first since a January 28 special ops raid on an al-Qaida compound that killed Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens and injured three other Marines.

The official declined to say how long that temporary authority would last.

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The group has also emerged as a de facto ally of the US-backed Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his backers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Shiite rebels. If granted for an extended period, it could permit more-intensive strikes, such as those that occurred Thursday, over a sustained period.

The strikes come barely a month after a controversial American commando raid against the extremists in which several civilians and a U.S. commando were killed. They did not specify which USA forces were involved but said the assault dealt a major blow to AQIP's ability to carry out terrorist attacks outside of Yemen.

They said there were a number of casualties, including children.

Backed by drones and Apache helicopter, the troops descended on Wadi Yashbum midnight and engaged suspected al-Qaeda fighters in a battle that lasted almost half an hour, residents said.

The defense official said the Defense Department, as instructed by President Barack Obama's administration, is not required to announce strikes outside of "areas of active hostility". "This has been good information", the official said, adding the United States seized "an very bad lot of telephone numbers".

The security firm founded by former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Ali Soufan called Abu Khayr's death "a major blow" for al-Qaida.

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