News ID: 8547
Publish Date: 17 June 2012 - 09:44
The White House has formally acknowledged for the first time that it is conducting lethal attacks against al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia, after it had partially lifted the lid of secrecy on its counterterrorism campaign.

The White House's semi-annual report to Congress on the state of US combat operations abroad, delivered on Friday, said that the US military had been taking "direct action" against members of al-Qaeda and affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, as has been widely reported for years.

The report does not elaborate, but "direct action" is a military term that refers to a range of lethal attacks, which in the cases of Yemen and Somalia include attacks by armed drones.

The report does not mention drones, which are remote-controlled, pilotless aircraft equipped with surveillance cameras and sometimes armed with missiles. The report applies only to US military operations, including those by special operations forces, not those conducted by the CIA.

"In all cases we are focused on those al-Qaeda members and affiliates who pose a direct threat to the United States and to our national interests," Pentagon press secretary George Little said after the report's release.

"This report contains information about these operations owing to their growing significance in our overall counterterrorism effort." The report does not provide details of any military operations in either Yemen or Somalia. It merely acknowledges they have happened.

Killings of terror suspects overseas are acknowledged by the administration, but it does not mention the involvement of drones. The CIA and military have separate drone fleets.

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