US boots on ground in Yemen

US boots on ground in Yemen
A picture taken on May 3, 2016 shows a Yemeni security forces member patrolling a street in the Yemeni port of Mukalla, in the Hadramawt province, 480 km east of Aden. (AFP)
Updated 07 May 2016

US boots on ground in Yemen

US boots on ground in Yemen

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time Friday it has deployed US troops to Yemen since the country’s collapse last year to bolster government and Arab coalition forces battling Al-Qaeda.

Spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the US military has also stepped up airstrikes against fighters with Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A “very small number” of American military personnel have been working from a “fixed location” with Yemeni and Arab coalition forces — especially the Emiratis — in recent weeks around Mukalla, a port city seized by AQAP a year ago, Davis said.
“This is of great interest to us. It does not serve our interests to have a terrorist organization in charge of a port city, and so we are assisting in that,” the spokesman added.
He said the troops were helping the Emiratis with “intelligence support,” but refused to say if they are special operations forces.
AQAP terrorists have now fled Mukalla and other coastal areas, due to the government offensive.
In a statement posted online, the Houthis threatened to “fight with all our means” the US and UAE presence in southern Yemen.
Meanwhile, gunmen on Friday killed the chief of the main prison in Aden where terrorists remain active, a security source said.
Wahab Nejib Ahmed Aoun and a relative were gunned down by two men on a motorbike in the central district of Mansura where the prison is located. The incident comes a week after a similar attack claimed the life of a police colonel in the city.
On Thursday, AQAP began withdrawing from Abyan provincial capital Zinjibar and the nearby city of Jaar following tribal mediation to spare them from destruction.