Pentagon reveals US forces back in Yemen

Pentagon reveals US forces back in Yemen

U.S. troops have been on the ground in Yemen for about two weeks, the Pentagon revealed on Friday.

The special operations troops are supporting Yemeni, Emirati and Saudi troops against al Qaeda militants near the city of Mukalla.

“We view this is short term,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters, according to The Washington Post. 

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Davis said the U.S. is providing a "small number" of military personnel, as well as medical, maritime and intelligence support to the forces, who are fighting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda's branch in Yemen considered to be the group's most dangerous. 

It's not the first time U.S. troops have been in Yemen. 

Special operations forces operated in the country last year, before they were evaculated after Houthi rebels supported by Iran unseated President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from the capital in Sana'a in March 2015. Hadi's government is now based in Aden. 

Davis said the troops now in Yemen would help advise the Arab ground forces and assist with operational planning.  

The U.S. has provided some logistical military and intelligence support to a Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi rebels but has not provided ground troops in that separate military conflict. 

Davis said the U.S. has also staged ships from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit off Yemen's coast, including the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer and destroyers USS Gravely and USS Gonzales. 

Davis also confirmed that the U.S. has conducted four airstrikes against AQAP fighters since April 23, killing 10 militants and wounding one.