KABUL – The use of drone strikes against suspected Islamist militants in Pakistan is an effective part of US strategy and should continue, Republican Senator John McCain said Thursday.
His comments came after al-Qaida reportedly said an attack on a US base in eastern Afghanistan which killed seven CIA agents was to avenge drone strikes that have killed prominent militants.
"The drone strikes are part of an overall set of tactics which make up the strategy for victory and they have been very effective," McCain told reporters during a brief trip to Afghanistan.
Unmanned Predator planes are used to gather information and launch strikes on Taliban and al-Qaida operatives in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the leaders of militant groups are based.
Drones had "knocked al-Qaida and other extremist groups off balance and they have been successful, and we are working more closely with the Afghan government as well as the Pakistan government to make those operations more efficient and less damaging to the civilian population," McCain said.
"I think it should continue, I think it's an important tool in our overall strategy and we can claim measurable success in carrying out those operations."
US-based tracking group SITE reported that al-Qaida said the suicide bombing at Forward Operating Base Chapman, near the Pakistan border in Khost province, was "revenge" for the deaths of senior militants in US drone strikes.
A Jordanian identified as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who was said to be a triple agent, blew himself up at the base on December 30 in the deadliest attack against the CIA since 1983.