US to increase bombing campaign in Yemen

The United States has in recent days stepped up its aerial bombing campaign targeting suspected al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, the Pentagon said on Monday.

US aircraft carried out 20 strikes over the weekend, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said without providing details of where or how they were conducted.

“We continue to target AQAP [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] in Yemen and this is done in the interests of disrupting this terror organisation that presents a very significant threat to the United States,” Davis said.

The Pentagon has increased attacks against AQAP since President Donald Trump took office in January, with over 70 airstrikes reported just since February 28.

An ill-fated American raid against AQAP in January killed scores of Yemeni civilians including nine children, in addition to a US Navy SEAL dead.

The raid was the first authorised by Trump, who drew criticism after he blamed “the generals” after it went terribly wrong.

A small contingent of US forces remains on the ground in Yemen, Pentagon spokesman Davis said, adding that they have not been involved in combat.

Yemen is locked in a deadly civil war that broke out in 2015 between Houthi rebels and government forces backed by an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

America has supported the Saudi-led coalition through weapons sales, air-to-air refueling of jets and intelligence sharing.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly supports increasing military support for the Saudi-led coalition.

However, Davis said there had been no official change in the US position vis-a-vis the level of support.


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