A US drone strike in northern Yemen has killed four suspected al-Qaeda members including a local chief who fought in Iraq, a Yemen military official has told the AFP news agency.

The unmanned aircraft fired two rockets at a vehicle in the Khalka area of Jawf province on Wednesday, a military official said, killing a man named Ali Juraym, cited as an al-Qaeda veteran of Iraq.

The US military has killed dozens of fighters over the past year with drone strikes in Yemen. Their use has triggered criticism from rights activists, who say they have killed many unarmed civilians.

The UN said 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 wounded when two wedding processions were targeted by drones in early December.

The victims had been mistakenly identified as members of al-Qaeda, the UN quoted local security officials as saying at the time.

Following the deaths, Yemen's parliament voted for a ban on drone strikes,but analysts say politicians have limited powers and are unlikely to have an impact on Washington's campaign.

The US says drones are an essential part of its "war on terror".

Source: AFP