SANAA, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- A total of five al-Qaida members were killed in a U.S. drone airstrike in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib on Sunday, a provincial security official told Xinhua.
The suspected terrorists were targeted while driving a pickup car in Raghwan district northwest of Marib, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The targeted terrorists were "al-Qaida local leader Mohammed Ammar al-Adani and four of his armed escorts," said the official, adding that al-Adani had come from the southern province of Shabwa and had been hiding in a house in Raghwan for more than a month.
Raghwan is under control of the internationally-recognized Yemeni government forces backed by the United States and a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition.
The United States is focusing on fighting Sunni al-Qaida group in coordination with Saudi, while the Saudi-led coalition is backing Yemeni government forces in battling against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels who control much of northern Yemen including the capital Sanaa.
This is the latest in a series of drone air strikes against the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), locally known as Ansar al-Sharia or "Supporters of the Islamic Law."
On Sept. 14, three militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot were killed in a U.S. drone strike while travelling on a motorcycle in the southern province of Abyan, according to a provincial security official.
The U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes against AQAP fighters in different provinces of the war-torn Arab country since U.S. President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group.
That included intensified overnight airstrikes and ground military raids against the al-Qaida hideouts in the mountainous areas of al-Bayda and southeastern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan, as well as Marib.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, regarded by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited more than two years of deadly conflicts between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in southeastern provinces.