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US Resumes Yemeni Military Training Mission After Heightened Al-qaeda Threat

U.S. military personnel have resumed training Yemeni forces months after Pentagon suspended its training mission due to political instability in that country, American Forces Press Service said.

The United States recently began reintroducing a small number of trainers into the country, Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby said on Tuesday.

It comes hours after FBI revealed that U.S. security and intelligence forces have foiled an al-Qaeda in Yemen plot to detonate an upgraded version of the failed 2009 "underwear bomb" on board a U.S.-bound plane.

The United States has been working for years with the Yemeni government and military to combat the growing al-Qaeda threat in the nation. "That threat doesn't just threaten the Yemeni people but also Americans," Kirby told reporters.

"There was a suspension of some of that activity in Yemen for a while due to the political instability in that country. We are now beginning to resume more of that routine military-to-military cooperation," the spokesman said.

He did not disclose the number of U.S. defense personnel deployed in Yemen operations.

After more than a year of mass protests against his decades-long autocratic rule, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, once seen as a vital partner in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, relinquished power in February conforming to a GCC-mediated transition deal.

His deputy Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi was elected President with an overwhelming majority.

Attacks on Yemeni security forces have escalated since he pledged to root out al-Qaeda from the impoverished Arab country. Al-Qaeda struck in retaliation to a series of U.S.-supported aerial bombings of its hideouts in Abyan and Lahj provinces.

Senior al-Qaeda leader Fahd al-Quso, who was on the United States' hit list in connection with the bombing of a U.S. destroyer ship in Yemen in 2000, was killed in a CIA air strike on Sunday.

Addressing questions about an American air strike in Afghanistan that mistakenly hit a civilian target, killing six members of an Afghan family, Kirby reiterated that the United States finds civilian casualties unacceptable.

Gen. John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, took responsibility for the raid and promised a thorough investigation. "We take each one very, very seriously; they're all a tragedy," Kirby said of civilian deaths.

The coalition goes to enormous lengths to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage, Kirby said. "When it happens, as tragic as it is, it's by mistake; it's an accident. We own up to it, we take responsibility, we investigate it," he added.

Meanwhile, U.S. media reported quoting American officials that the would-be suicide attacker in a foiled "underwear bomb" plot was a double agent of Saudi Arabia and the United States.

He had been recruited reportedly by Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency and sent to Yemen where he infiltrated the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) camp.

The double-agent was tasked by Saudi intelligence to convince AQAP that he wanted to blow up a U.S.-bound aircraft by detonating the underwear bomb.

The New York Times says that the agent handed over the device and information about the militant outfit to the CIA and intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Yemen says it was not aware of the so-called bomb plot, which "only served U.S. interests and Yemen was once more kept in the dark," Reuters quoted a Yemeni presidential official as saying.

by RTT Staff Writer

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