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U.S. Embassy in Yemen Closed, But Not Evacuated, Officials Say

U.S. officials said Monday they have no plans to evacuate the American embassy in Yemen, although it was closed to the public as "a prudent precaution" given political turmoil and security concerns in that country. Senior officials also confirmed that an American drone strike in Yemen had killed three suspected members of al Qaeda on Monday. One official said the strike showed that the U.S. has the capability to launch airstrikes against al Qaeda in Yemen despite the recent chaos,

Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has indicated that the U.S. and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who seized the capital last week are sharing intelligence regarding their common foe: al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula. Vickers told the Atlantic Council last week “it’s a “safe assumption” the two are still cooperating. One senior official pointed out that while the Yemeni government under the former regime supported U.S. counter-terror operations, it had no control over U.S. drone strikes. “We still have the capability and commitment to launch strikes when needed,” the official said.

Meanwhile, more than 200 U.S. personnel remain on duty at the embassy in Sanaa. Since the Yemeni government was driven from power, “a handful” of Americans have left Yemen aboard commercial airliners which are still operating into and out of Sanaa, officials said.

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— Jim Miklaszewski