In the first direct US military action in Yemen since the disastrous January SEAL Team 6 raid, US warplanes and drones launched a flurry of attacks against targets across southern and central Yemen, targeting a series of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-held districts, mostly remote areas in the mountains.
Over 20 distinct airstrikes were reported, with reports of as many as nine people, all labeled “suspects” having been killed. The Pentagon said the strikes were meant to degrade AQAP’s ability to launch strikes abroad, and to limit their ability to use territory inside Yemen.
Details on what was hit aren’t totally clear, with various “camps” and “depots” said to be targeted. AQAP issued its own statement claiming to have repelled a US ground raid in the Abyan Province. The Pentagon denied that any ground raids were taking place.
The timing of such a large number of coordinated strikes has not been officially explained, but raises speculation that President Trump’s attempts to defend the January raid as having produced “actionable” intelligence are in play, with the hopes that a bunch of new action will create a link between the two incidents. Pentagon officials have repeatedly insisted none of the laptops or other computers seized in the January raid had any intelligence, beyond things they already knew about from other sources.
Though the Pentagon has issued multiple statements confirming no actionable intelligence was netted, and officials have repeatedly detailed myriad things that went wrong during the raid, President Trump has repeatedly insisted it was a runaway success.