US Drone Killed Aussie Foot Soldiers in Yemen
By Athena Yenko | April 16, 2014 2:20 PM EST
Two Australian foot soldiers were reportedly killed by a US drone strike which took place in Yemen back in 2013 during a counter-terrorism operation.
"We understand the men were killed during a counter-terrorism operation and do not intend to discuss its details," Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
DFAT said that the operation has no links to any Australian government activity.
"There was no Australian involvement in, or prior awareness of, the operation," DFAT said.
The Australian reported that a senior counter-terrorism source said that the foot soldiers were working for al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Federal Police helped in identifying the bodies but the agency refused to comment when asked by The Australian.
One soldier was identified as Christopher Harvard of Townsville. The other, a dual citizen of new Zealand, was only known being called as "Muslim Bin John" and his alias "Abu Suhaib al-Australi''. Apparently, they were not the target of the drone strike. The strike was targeting Abu Habib al-Yemeni.
However, DFAT did not confirm reports saying that the two soldiers were killed in a US drone strike targeted to an al-Qa'ida operative. The agency pointed to high security risk in Yemen as the main reason for the killing.
"The security situation in Yemen is highly volatile. Since 2010, DFAT has advised Australians against all travel to Yemen due to the very high-threat environment. Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Yemen and DFAT's capacity to deliver consular assistance there is extremely limited."
The United States had always been the subject of 'rumoured' drone attacks saying the nation employed drones in its strong desire to eliminate Islamic militants - Yemen and Pakistan being its main targets.
According to The Australian, US had launched 20 drone strikes -operated by the Pentagon and the CIA - in Yemen in 2013 alone.
The government of US had always been denying the accusation.
"The United States uses all lawful means at its disposal and works closely with foreign partners and allies to mitigate the threats we face," a US embassy spokesman told The Australian.
According to a source from DFAT, the US authorities were the ones who informed Australia that there were Australian citizens killed during a counter-terrorism attack.
"The Americans advised us that they had intelligence that suggested they may have been in the car and may have been collateral damage,'' the source said.
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