The U.S. Defense Department acknowledged “multiple ground operations” in Yemen for the first time on Wednesday, December 20, 2017. Until now, U.S. operations in the country were shrouded in mystery.
“U.S. forces have conducted multiple ground operations and more than 120 strikes in 2017,” U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, said in a statement.
U.S. military operations in Yemen aim to “disrupt the ability of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS-Yemen to use ungoverned spaces in Yemen as a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and base of operations to export terror worldwide,” the statement continued.
Operations have scaled up in Yemen along with the presence of ISIS in the country. The Defense Department believes that ISIS has doubled in size in Yemen.
The situation in Yemen is extremely unstable. In early December, Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen from 1978-2011, was killed by Houthi rebels. Saleh betrayed them to try and make a deal with Saudi Arabia and his rival for the presidency, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Meanwhile a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding. The United Nations estimates that $8.4 million people in the country are just “a step away” from famine. The famine is largely caused by Saudi Arabia’s air, land and sea blockade of the country.
The UK has pledged an additional $66 million in foreign aid to Yemen to help stave off famine.
“Every day, parents are carrying their malnourished children to hospital because they haven’t eaten in days, and families are watching as loved ones die needlessly from treatable illnesses because they do not have access to medical care,” International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said in a statement.
“UK aid will save lives with new food and fuel; fuel that will produce food, pump clean water to help stop the spread of cholera, and power hospital generators.”
The Saudi-led coalition said it would keep the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah open to receive aid.