SANAA, Yemen – U.S. helicopters airlifted the soldiers to a central Yemeni province where they targeted an al-Qaida compound, clash with suspected militants and the killing of at least seven of them, early on Tuesday, according to the U.s. army, Yemeni security officials and tribal leaders.
The Central Command said that AMERICAN forces killed the militants with the help of “a combination of small arms fire and precision air strikes” to attack the compound. The Ministry of Defence said that the operation was carried out with the support of the government of Yemen.
According to the Yemeni officials, the attack took place in al-Sirim area in the province of Marib in the early hours of the morning. Tribal members said explosions were heard in al-Sirim, followed by helicopters and gunfire.
The helicopter landed in the outskirts of the city of Jouba is in the neighborhood of al-Sirim, which is known as one of al-Qaeda’s hideouts, and that is the target of a series of air strikes in the past month, which reportedly killed six al-Qaida fighters.
According to the officials, there was also bombing in the neighbouring province of Bayda. The officials and tribesmen said on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to talk with journalists. They also did not provide specific information on the victims.
The Marib raid is the second publicly known U.S. ground deployment in Yemen this year against al-Qaida fighters. The United States has stepped up air strikes as part of a sustained attack on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the areas of Yemen, where the most active, after a late January operations special attack that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL.
Washington considers AQAP as one of the most dangerous branches of the terror network.
The January raid also killed 25 civilians, including women and children, and led to outrage in the country. The US military said on 14 al-Qaeda fighters killed in the attack, and that U.S. service members captured “information that is likely to provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”
More than 75 U.S. air strikes conducted since the beginning of the year, returned from a nearly double increase of the annual totals since the drone program against al-Qaeda in Yemen began in 2009, according to analysts.
But al-Qaida has used in the chaos of Yemen civil war after 2015, the launch of the Saudi campaign aimed at the Shiite Houthi rebels who seized the capital, Sanaa, and other areas in the country, with the expansion of the footprint and recruitment.
The militant group has effectively emerged as a de facto ally of the U.S.-backed Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his backers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the fight against the Shiite rebels. The United States also supports the oil-rich Saudi Arabia with military advisers, logistics, and intelligence, in addition to billions of dollars in arms.