US forces conducted 10 counterterrorism strikes in Yemen in January, US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced in a press release today. The US military appears to be maintaining operational tempo against al Qaeda and the Islamic State’s networks in Yemen in 2018 after a record number of strikes in 2017.
Nine strikes targeted Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), with one aimed at the Islamic State’s network in Yemen, according to CENTCOM spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Earl Brown. CENTCOM did not disclose the location of these strikes or the number of fighters killed. Neither AQAP nor the Islamic State announced the death of senior leaders or operatives in January.
“Every strike advances the defeat of violent extremist organizations, and protects the United States and partner nations from attack at home and abroad,” Brown said.
US forces conducted a record 120 strikes in Yemen in 2017, more than the previous four years combined.
CENTCOM said these strikes were launched “in coordination with the government of Yemen to degrade these groups’ ability to hold territory and coordinate external attacks.” AQAP still controls territory in remote areas of southern and central Yemen despite a US and UAE-backed Hadi government offensive that ejected the terrorist group from more populated areas, including Hadramout’s provincial capital of Mukallah.
The press release also reiterated information on two high value targets killed in Dec. 2017. As Long War Journal has previously reported, US forces killed Miqdad al Sana’ani and Habib al-Sana’ani in Dec. 2017. Both individuals served as facilitators for AQAP. Habib al-Sana’ani was known to have ties to AQAP senior leadership.