U.S. steps up action against Al-Qaeda, set to carry out counter-terror raids

New York [U.S.], Mar. 15 : The Pentagon has been given the clearance to carry out counter-terrorism missions in Yemen, in a move aimed at stepping up America's fight against Al-Qaeda.

The White House is talking to the Pentagon about providing similar leeway in Libya and Somalia as terror activities there grow, a US defense official told CNN Monday.

The authority gives military commanders more freedom to carry out missions in order to achieve "a strategic effect" -- that is, a broader military goal agreed upon by the President -- as opposed to needing approval for each strike and raid on a case-by-case basis.

Last February, the CIA had carried out a drone strike against Abu al Khayr al-Masri, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, signaling that the intelligence agency could once again become a major player in targeted strikes.

But whether the strikes were to be carried out by the intelligence community or the Pentagon, major efforts would be made to avoid civilian casualties.

The military has long sought to have the White House deem operations in Libya, Somalia and Yemen in "active hostility".

The ongoing civil war in Yemen has destabilized that country, allowing al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to carve out a safe haven in that country's tribal regions, close to the civil war's frontline.

Source: ANI