Pentagon: U.S. troops sent to Yemen in al-Qaida battle

Pentagon-US-troops-sent-to-Yemen-in-al-Qaida-battle.    WASHINGTON,  A “small number” of U.S. troops were deployed to support Arab forces in Yemen, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Militants loyal to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take their positions in Taiz, Yemen, March, 30, 2015. The Pentagon announced this week it has sent a “small number” of U.S. troops to Yemen to provide support to forces fighting al-Qaeda. File Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo
















Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the troops have been in the conflict-stricken country for about two weeks in an effort to assist both Yemeni and Emirati special forces against al-Qaida militants, according to the Washington Post.

The deployed U.S. forces, the exact number of which Davis did not say, reportedly helped the coalition retake the Yemeni port city of Mukulla in late April.

The Pentagon said it is also assisting in intelligence gathering, surveillance and surveying for the operation. Medical support, security, maritime interdiction services and aerial refueling services have also been initiated, Davis said.

A Pentagon spokesman said al-Qaida remains a “significant threat to the region and to the United States,” as it is “using unrest in Yemen to provide safe haven from which to plan future attacks against he United States and its interests.”

The deployment, Davis said, is being treated as short-term, Davis added. U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder added the U.S. troops’ mission was “limited” to the area around Mukulla.

“We welcome operations undertaken by Yemeni Forces, with the support of Arab Coalition Forces, to liberate the Yemeni port city of Mukalla from control by al- Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” Ryder told the Post in an email.

Conflict in Yemen reignited over a year ago at the end of 2014, when a long-standing U.S.-backed government collapsed from significant pressure from Shiite Houthi rebels. Since then, al-Qaida has moved in to take advantage of the subsequent disorder in the region.

By Marilyn Malara