The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been using a secret drone airbase in Saudi Arabia for the last two years, according to a BBC report.
The base was established in order to hunt down Al Qaeda members in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and particularly in Yemen.
A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-citizen who was alleged to be AQAP’s external operations chief.
US media have known of the base’s existence since then, but have not reported it.
Senior government officials had said they were concerned that disclosure would undermine operations against AQAP, as well as potentially damage counter-terrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia, said the report.
The US military pulled out virtually all of its troops from Saudi Arabia in 2003, having stationed between 5,000 and 10,000 troops in the Gulf kingdom after the 1991 Gulf war. Only personnel from the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) officially remain.
The location of the secret drone base was not revealed in the US reports and the Saudi government has not yet commented.