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U.S. Airstrike in Yemen Kills Al Qaeda Operatives, Military Says

The U.S. military killed three operatives with the terror group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, U.S. Central Command said Friday.

Those killed in the Thursday airstrike in the Shabwah Governorate in central Yemen were not identified.

"AQAP remains a significant threat to the region, the United States and beyond," the military said in a statement. "Al-Qa'ida's presence has a destabilizing effect on Yemen; it is using the unrest in Yemen to provide a haven from which to plan future attacks against our allies as well as the U.S. and its interests."

Related: Al Qaeda Makes Comeback in ISIS' Shadow

Yemen is gripped by a war between Iran-backed Shiite rebels and forces loyal to the government. AQAP has benefitted from the power vacuum created by the Houthi rebels' uprising, and the air war on the Houthis by Saudi Arabia. The group has expanded its territory in the country, experts said.

The U.S. has carried out airstrikes in Yemen in the past. A July 8 airstrike killed an AQAP operative in central Yemen and a July 16 airstrike killed six others, Central Command said. In 2011, a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed American-born recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki.

Related: U.S. Military Operating on the Ground in Yemen, Pentagon Says

"The U.S. will not relent in its mission to degrade, disrupt and destroy al-Qa'ida and its remnants," U.S. Central Command said in a statement. "We remain committed to defeating AQAP and denying it safe haven regardless of its location. Strikes conducted by the U.S. in Yemen continue to diminish AQAP's presence in the region."