Saudi says its air force has not struck al-Qaida in Yemen

By REUTERS
January 5, 2013 17:40

 
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RIYADH - Saudi Arabian fighter jets have not attacked al-Qaida targets in Yemen, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Saturday, denying a newspaper report that some strikes attributed to US drones were made instead by the kingdom's air force.

Britain's Times newspaper on Friday cited an unnamed US intelligence source as saying "some of the so-called drone missions are actually Saudi Air Force missions".

Asked to comment by reporters in Riyadh on Saturday, Prince Saud said, "This is not true." He did not elaborate.

Any evidence of Saudi involvement in air strikes in Yemen risks damaging Riyadh's efforts to target militants there by complicating its relationship with the government in Sanaa and with Yemeni tribal leaders, who control large parts of the country, including areas where al-Qaida members are present.

Washington and Riyadh fear turbulence in impoverished Yemen could allow al-Qaida a launchpad to attack Saudi energy targets and crude tankers in the Red Sea, a major oil shipping route.

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