US forces launched more than 20 air raids in Yemen targeting militants belonging to the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Pentagon said on 2 March. This is the first counter-terrorism operation since the last botched attempt by US commandos which resulted in the death of multiple civilians and a Navy Seal.
Although Pentagon has not released the number of casualties in the latest air strikes, reports suggest at least nine militants were killed. The aerial bombing pounded AQAP "militants, equipment and infrastructure".
Pentagon's spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis said: "More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Baida and Shabwa. The strikes were conducted in partnership with the government of Yemen, and were coordinated with President (Abed Rabbo Mansour) Hadi."
Both unmanned and manned aircraft were part of the raids underscoring President Donald Trump's intentions to expand anti-terrorism operations in Yemen.
Without highlighting the reason behind the higher number of strikes in a single night, Davis added: "The strikes will degrade the AQAP's ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to use territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen as a safe space for terror plotting."
Reports from Yemen also suggest that US ground forces took part in the raid, however, the claim was denied by Pentagon. Without going into detail, Davis acknowledged that US ground troops were present at the time of the air raids. "We have US Special Operations forces that go in and out of Yemen to assist our partner forces in fighting al-Qaeda," he said.