Pentagon officials are confirming that the US is providing “limited” military support for the pro-Saudi Yemeni forces, and their coalition allies in recent offensives against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) along the southern Yemeni coast.
The Pentagon support includes intelligence, ships, and special operations forces, though the forces themselves are said to be at the “headquarters level.” While officials refused to say whether that meant they were in Yemen or not, they insisted the troops weren’t near the combat zones.
The US was already backing the same factions against the Shi’ite Houthis in northern Yemen, in a war that has been going on for over a year. The huge civilian toll of that war, however, has kept the administration a bit more mum about details than a direct fight with an al-Qaeda affiliate.
AQAP’s territorial possessions, however, are overwhelmingly the product of that ongoing Saudi war against the Houthis, as the cities “reclaimed” from AQAP were held by Houthi forces before the war, and left undefended as fighting picked up.