Citing government sources, The New York Times is reporting that the White House is intensifying covert U.S. airstrikes against militants in Yemen, using drones and fighter jets, after nearly a year-long halt to the strikes.
The strikes come as Yemen teeters on the brink of civil war, after forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh have violently put down anti-government protests. The Times reports that with Yemeni troops called to fight in the capital, Sanaa, the United States sees the increased airstrikes as necessary to keep militants in the south, such as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, from consolidating power.
Saleh fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia five days ago after being wounded in a strike on his compound by opposition forces. He remains in critical condition, and a U.S. official on Wednesday said Saleh's chances of survival are "unclear."
As part of the latest operations, the Times reports that U.S. jets killed Abu Ali-al-Harithi, an al-Qaida operative, along with other militants. Weeks earlier, a drone fired at radical, American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who survived.
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