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The United States has waged a drone war in Yemen for 16 years, trying to suppress Al-Qaeda's branch here. But the campaign has had a hidden cost: civilians cut down by the drones' missiles. In an examination of drone strikes this year alone, the Associated Press found that at least 30 of the dead likely did not belong to Al-Qaeda.The AP count gives a glimpse, even if incomplete, into how often civilians are mistakenly hit by drone strikes, at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has dramatically ramped up the use of armed drones. It has carried out 176 strikes during its nearly two years in office, compared to the 154 strikes during the entire eight years of President Barack Obama's administration, according to a count by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.Most of those killed, 24, were civilians; at least six others were fighters in pro-government forces meaning ostensibly on the same side as the U.S. who were hit in strikes away from the front lines while engaged in civilian life.Counting civilians among those numbers is complicated by the difficulty in determining who belongs to Al-Qaeda in a country of multiple warring militias. Al-Qaeda has joined the battle against the Houthis, and many of its fighters are incorporated into militias armed and funded by the U.S.-backed coalition.Some of the strikes killed Al-Qaeda militants, according to rights activists in the area.
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