Official: US to take "necessary" steps to help Yemen fight al-Qaeda

Official: US to take "necessary" steps to help Yemen fight al-Qaeda

The United States will resort to "necessary activities" to help Yemen fight a local branch of al-Qaeda, newly appointed US Ambassador Gerald Feierstein said Monday, dpa reported.

"Our focus is on supporting the government of Yemen and the Yemeni security forces in addressing the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula," Feierstein said at a news conference in Sana'a.

"We will undertake the activities that are necessary to provide that support," the US diplomat said as he answered questions on his country's involvement in recent airstrikes on al-Qaeda facilities in the southern and eastern provinces of Yemen.

An impoverished country at the south-western tip of the Arabian peninsula, Yemen has come under immense pressure from the US and the West to fight al-Qaeda after the resurgence of the group under its local branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Yemen has stepped up its operations against the organization since December, after the AQAP claimed responsibility for a failed plot to blow up a US passenger airplane as it prepared to land on Christmas Day in Detroit.

The AQAP emerged in January 2009 from the merger of al-Qaeda's Yemeni and Saudi branches, after the Saudi group was effectively crushed by that country's government, forcing its members to seek sanctuary in Yemen.

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