CIA builds new drone base to hunt Yemeni militants

June 14, 2011 - 12:41 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials say the CIA has stepped up the schedule for building a Persian Gulf base for armed U.S. drones going after terrorists in Yemen.

But the base is at least eight months away from completion and plagued with logistics difficulties, so the counterterror operation remains in the hands of the Pentagon's elite special operations forces. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Since 2009, Yemen has allowed those U.S. forces to employ a mixture of armed and unarmed drones, ship-fired missiles, small special operations teams working with Yemenis, and occasional war plane bombing runs, Yemeni and U.S. officials say. The recent unrest has driven al-Qaida targets into the open, presenting U.S. forces with new targets of opportunity.