South Waziristan Drone Strike
US drones struck in South Waziristan for the second time in three days, killing a Yemeni al Qaeda commander, according to reports from Pakistan. Two strikes have taken place in Pakistan's tribal areas after an unusually long pause that lasted for 36 days.
The remotely-piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired missiles at a car traveling in Shin Warzak near Wana in South Waziristan, according to Dawn. Three "militants," including a Yemeni al Qaeda leader, were reported to have been killed in the strike.
The al Qaeda leader was identified as Abdul Rehman al Zaman Yemeni, and was described by The Express Tribune as "a senior al Qaeda leader."
However, a US military intelligence official who tracks al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan told The Long War Journal that Abdul Rehman is a "mid-level al Qaeda commander, equivalent to a colonel."
The strike is the second in Shin Warzak in three days. On Nov. 29, US drones killed three more terrorists, including a "foreigner," in a drone attack. Pakistani newspapers have identified the foreign fighter as Sheikh Abdul Bari.
The US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal that Bari, like Abdul Rehman, is a mid-level al Qaeda commander who has operated in Pakistan's tribal areas for some time. The intelligence official would not confirm the reports of the deaths of Bari and Abdul Rehman.
This week's drone strikes in South Waziristan ended a 36-day-long hiatus in the strike campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas. The pause in strikes was the second longest since the US campaign was ramped up in the summer of 2008 under the Bush administration.
The longest pause was 55 days, from Nov. 26, 2011, to Jan. 10, 2012, when the Obama administration put the program on hold after US and Pakistani forces clashed in Mohmand. Pakistani troops had attacked US forces on the Afghan side of the border, and the ensuing firefight resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers. The US later apologized for the incident, despite having been attacked first by the Pakistani soldiers who failed to disengage after US aircraft signaled that US forces were involved.
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