A day after the US was reported to have participated in an anti al-Qaeda offensive in southern Shabwa Province of Yemen, the Pentagon is confirming that a “small number” of US ground troops have been deployed into Yemen for an ongoing operation against the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) force.
Details are still scant, but the operation is said to be taking place across central Yemen in a major al-Qaeda stronghold. The Pentagon said the main purposes of their presence is “intelligence sharing,” at least for now.
That’s because the Pentagon said they are not ruling out sending even more troops into Yemen in the coming weeks, as they appear to intend to continue escalating the fight against AQAP, in an offensive which apparently is being coordinated with the United Arab Emirates.
This operation is distinct from the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which is not focused on fighting against AQAP, but the presence of US ground troops in the country at all is likely to be controversial, given the human rights disaster the US-backed Saudi conflict has turned into.
A pre-dawn Saudi airstrike against the predominantly Shi’ite city of Saada, in northern Yemen, has destroyed a home and killed nine civilians, six of them children. Saudi officials have yet to comment on why the house was attacked.
This has been a problem throughout the Saudi war in Yemen, however, with airstrikes killing a massive number of civilians, particularly in Shi’ite parts of the country, and despite repeated promises to improve their targeting, it keeps happening.
A relative of the victims says that everyone was still asleep when the attack happened, leveling the home and killing all within, three women and six children from an extended family. Local officials say three other civilians were wounded nearby.
Residents in the area took quite some time to even start picking through the ruins of the house to recover the bodies, noting that the Saudi warplanes which attacked continued to circle overhead long after, raising fears they’d attack anyone trying to rescue survivors, which has also been common practice in the Saudi air war.