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Yemeni president covers up US strikes: WikiLeaks

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 28, 2010
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh admits covering up US military strikes on Al-Qaeda in Yemen by claiming they are carried out by Yemeni forces, according to US documents leaked by WikiLeaks.

"We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh said in January talks with General David Petraeus, then commander of US forces in the Middle East, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable published by the New York Times.

The cable was sent by the US ambassador to Yemen, the daily said.

The daily said the remarks prompted Yemen's deputy prime minister to "joke that he had just 'lied' by telling parliament" that Yemeni forces had staged the strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al-Qaeda's Yemeni arm.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Washington had deployed drones to hunt down jihadists.

With more than 100,000 US troops fighting Al-Qaeda's allies in Afghanistan and public skepticism in Yemen over the US military's role there, US officials have stressed that Sanaa will lead the fight against Islamist militants.

On November 16, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said providing equipment and training to Yemeni security forces offered the best way to counter the threat posed by Al-Qaeda militants.

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