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CIA operates drone base in Saudi Arabia

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field southern Afghanistan moonlit night January 2010.  |  Kirsty

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan, on a moonlit night in January 2010. | Kirsty Wigglesworth~AP file photo

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WASHINGTON — The CIA conducts lethal drone strikes against al-Qaida militants inside Yemen from a remote base in Saudi Arabia, including the strike that killed the U.S.-born al-Qaida operative Anwar al-Awlaki.

The location of the base was first disclosed by the New York Times online Tuesday night.

The Associated Press first reported the construction of the base in June 2011 but withheld the exact location at the request of senior administration officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because portions of the military and CIA missions in Yemen are classified.

Any operation by U.S. military or intelligence officials inside Saudi Arabia is politically and religiously sensitive. Al-Qaida and other militant groups have used the Gulf kingdom’s close working relationship with U.S. counterterrorism officials to stir internal dissent against the Saudi regime.

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