The Pentagon carried out over 70 airstrikes in March against targets inside Yemen, which was more than US forces carried out in all of 2016. That trend of escalation appears to be continuing into early April, with officials saying over 20 strikes were launched just in the first two days of April.
Officials say that the strikes, which were mostly launched by drones, targeted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targets around the Shabwa Province, focusing on “infrastructure” and “fighting positions.” They provided no indication on death tolls.
AQAP is considered a high priority for the Trump Administration, and Pentagon officials have been playing up the threat in trying to get approval for an escalation in the US involvement in the Saudi invasion of Yemen, even though the Saudi war is unrelated to AQAP, and the Saudis have largely ignored fighting with them.
Indeed, AQAP gained considerable territory after the Saudi invasion, because the focus of the invasion was on chasing the Shi’ites out of southern Yemen, and little effort was made to secure broad chunks of rural territory which has since been added to AQAP’s territory.