WASHINGTON — U.S. forces carried out two airstrikes Nov. 19-20 in Yemen targeting al-Qaida militants in Bayda governorate, according to U.S. Central Command.
The results of the strikes are still being assessed, but the recent salvos carried out by U.S. forces in the region caps more than 100 strikes against terror groups operating in ungoverned spaces of Yemen since January.
The majority of strikes launched by U.S. forces in Yemen have targeted an offshoot of the main branch of al-Qaida, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The group was responsible for attacks against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
But, in mid-October, U.S. strikes in the war-torn region targeted ISIS militants for the first time. Over a ten day period, U.S. forces killed more than 60 ISIS fighters, according to CENTCOM.
The U.S. mission in Yemen is twofold: supporting the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence and logistics to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to power and striking al-Qaida and ISIS militants as part of a counterterrorism mission.
U.S. support of Saudi Arabia in Yemen has been contentious. Saudi warplanes have been blamed for high death tolls and indiscriminate bombings against civilian targets.
The UN has warned that Yemen is on the brink of famine as a result of a Saudi imposed blockade of the country.
Yemen imports up to 90 percent of its food, according to UN estimates.
U.S. forces have appeared to ramp up operations against militants outside of Iraq and Syria over the last several months as ISIS has lost most of its territorial possessions there, with strikes targeting al-Qaida and ISIS fighters in Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.