US Central Command (Centcom) announced late on Thursday that it had conducted six air strikes in Yemen which targeted the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist network in three separate governorates since May 16. The latest actions bring the total number of air strikes against AQAP in Yemen to 34.
The most recent strikes took place on May 25, June 23 and 30, July 22 and 24, and on August 14. All of these took place in the Shabwa, Hadramawt and Al Bayda governorates.
“AQAP has taken advantage of the conflicts in Yemen, to plot, direct and encourage terror attacks abroad,” said Lieutenant Colonel Earl Brown, a Centcom spokesman. “We will not relent on our pursuit of AQAP terrorists as they remain a significant threat to regional security and stability, and the safety of Americans at home and abroad.”
On Tuesday, secretary of defense James Mattis said his country is “focused on defeating ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” in Yemen. “That's what we do where we conduct operations,” he told reporters.
AQAP is known for its lethality and has plotted several attacks against the United States over the last two decades. A recent United Nations report assessing AQAP leaders recognised Yemen as a hub for their external operations.
In recent months, its scope has been weakened by operations of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition supporting the government in Yemen. Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, highlighted the impressive progress that has been made against the group in territory in the east of Yemen which it has held since the Houthi insurgency erupted in 2014.