ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. drone strike targeting a car killed three members of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, including a leader in the central province of al-Bayda on Saturday, a military official told Xinhua.
The military source said that the unmanned U.S. aircraft fired its missiles on a small pick-up truck of al-Qaida in al-Bayda province, leaving three terrorists killed, including a local leader of the group.
Residents near the scene confirmed that "the commander's body along with two of his companions left incinerated inside the car."
Identities of the killed al-Qaida operatives were still unknown but more details may be revealed in the next hours, according to local sources.
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 province of Shabwa.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in southeastern provinces.
Yemen's government, allied with a Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for years been battling Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels for control of the impoverished country.
UN statistics showed that more than 8,000 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict, most of them civilians, since the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in 2015.
The impoverished Arab country is also suffering the world's largest cholera outbreak, where about 5,000 cases are reported every day.