The United States Defense Department acknowledged for the first time multiple ground operations in Yemen, stating also that the Islamic State has doubled in size there, NBC News reports.
“U.S. forces have conducted multiple ground operations and more than 120 strikes in 2017,” said a statement from the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.
Disruption of 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 are the main goals. Trump’s administration did not previously acknowledge the extent of the American counter-terrorism operations in Yemen and the Defense Department did not provide regular updates of air or ground operations in Yemen like it was for Syria and Iraq.
The announcement came while the White House sought to use passage of the tax reform bill to celebrate what officials view as victories. Vice President Mike Pence praised Trump’s approach to fighting the terror group called Islamic State and added that its so-called caliphate has crumbled across Syria and Iraq.
After Iraqi officials said that their security forces defeated ISIS in Iraq, U.S. officials congratulated them, but warned that difficult days lie ahead.
“Right now, clearly ISIS is getting broken. The fight is not over with them. Don’t believe it when somebody says that ISIS is completely down,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said last week.
Meanwhile, in the announcement regarding the Islamic State in Yemen, the Defense Department also informed that it had killed three senior al Qaeda leaders last month and 50 ISIS Yemen combatants at two training camps in October.