In reply to questions about the use of terror drones by his administration in a chat with web users on Google+ and YouTube on Monday, the US president said, “a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA” — Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
“For the most part, they’ve been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates, and we’re very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” Obama said.
This is the first time Washington has acknowledged using the remotely piloted aircraft to strike targets within Pakistan.
The US regularly uses unmanned aircraft for attacks on Pakistan’s tribal regions, claiming the airstrikes target Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, but locals say civilians are the main victims of the assaults.
The aerial attacks were initiated by former US President George W. Bush but have been escalated under President Barack Obama.
The US resumed its drone operations in Pakistan in recent days after it halted the strikes in November 2011, when 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in NATO airstrikes at two checkpoints on the Afghan border.
The airstrikes sparked angry protests across Pakistan.
In response to the attack, Islamabad closed the border crossings used to transfer NATO supplies into landlocked Afghanistan and ordered all US personnel to vacate a remote airfield in Balochistan province that was used to launch drone attacks.