US drone strike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Yemen

Jalal Baleedi, a field commander in the country’s south, was killed with his guards in Shabwa province.

High-ranking al-Qaeda leader killed by US drone strike in Yemen
The US has continued a drone campaign in Yemen targeting al-Qaeda figures [EPA]

One of al-Qaeda’s senior commanders was killed by a US drone strike in southern Yemen, a military source told Al Jazeera.

Fighters belonging to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were preparing to receive the body of Jalal Baleedi, also known as Hamza al-Marqashi, after he was killed overnight with two of his guards near the town of Azzan, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday.

Reuters news agency also reported another US drone attack that killed six alleged al-Qaeda fighters in their car travelling in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province.

Al-Qaeda fighters took over Azzan on Monday, and it has become the group’s stronghold in Shabwa.

Originally from Yemen’s mountainous Abyan province, Baleedi was identified in 2004 by the Yemen Times as being the field commander of AQAP in the southern governorates of Abyan, Shabwa, Lahj, Hadramout, and al-Beidha.

Recent reports suggested  Baleedi pledged allegiance to and joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group with several other AQAP fighters, becoming the leader of ISIL in Yemen.

However, the reports were not confirmed by ISIL nor by AQAP.

Additional reporting by Nasser Al-Sakkaf

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Source: Al Jazeera