(CNN) -- Air raids in northern Yemen killed six operatives with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen's Ministry of Defense said Friday.
The main target was the group's military commander, Qassim al-Raimi, the Yemeni Embassy to the United States said in a written statement.
The defense ministry said al-Raimi was killed.
A Yemeni government official briefed in detail on the matter said the Yemeni government is "almost certain" that al-Raimi was killed.
The official described al-Raimi as the third-highest-ranking figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.
The group has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner on December 25. Investigators have said intelligence ties the bombing suspect, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, to the group.
Yemeni forces carried out an air raid at 2:30 p.m. near Alajasher in the country's far north, the Yemeni Embassy to the United States said in its statement.