U.S. military personnel has been on the ground in Yemen sifting through the aftermath of recent drone strikes, helping to retrieve bodies and data from the scene of a handful of weekend drone strikes carried out by the CIA, a source told Fox News on Tuesday.
Separately, Fox News has learned that U.S. pilots provided airlift to Yemeni troops via Russian-built MI8 helicopters overnight for a separate ambush on a vehicle believed to be carrying top Al Qaeda militants.
The missions follow the recent targeting of suspected terrorists in the country. On Monday, a suspected U.S. drone strike in southern Yemen killed 68 people, a Yemeni government official said Tuesday, though a list compiled on preliminary DNA testing was not yet complete. The official emphasized that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leadership was not the target of the raid.
But a list of the dead, now being circulated among Jihadi social media in Yemen, does include what are described as “high value” targets, including a senior recruiter and religious scholar. The names are being reviewed by US intelligence officials.
Also on Tuesday, Yemeni officials said gunmen killed four senior security officers in the past 24 hours in a string of attacks. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said the assailants riding motorcycles gunned down three colonels — two of them in the intelligence agency and one from military police — in Sanaa on Monday and early Tuesday.
They say gunmen also shot dead a deputy security chief Tuesday in the central city of Harib.
In another Yemen-related development, a Yemeni government official confirmed to Fox News that a recent propaganda video released by Al Qaeda in Yemen was a "gold mine" for intelligence, revealing the faces of operatives, identifying their vehicles, the license plates and their location in the rugged mountains of the south, an area that is largely outside the Yemeni government's control and similar to the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan. The source characterizes the video as an apparent “miscalculation” by Al Qaeda in Yemen, helping the security forces narrow the focus of the operation, which came in three waves over the weekend.
Fox News' Jennifer Griffin, Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.