The U.S. military launched an offensive against an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, targeting its training camp with an airstrike Tuesday. Pentagon said that dozens of fighters from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were killed during the operation, the latest sign of heightened military action against militants in the Middle East and Africa.
“This strike deals a blow to AQAP’s ability to use Yemen as a base for attacks that threaten U.S. persons, and it demonstrates our commitment to defeating al Qaeda and denying it safe haven,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook reportedly said, adding that the training camp was being used by more than 70 militants.
“We continue to assess the results of the operation, but our initial assessment is that dozens of AQAP fighters have been removed from the battlefield,” he reportedly added. Pentagon did not disclose the location of the camp, BBC reported.
The airstrikes occurred as a Saudi-led military campaign continues against Houthi rebels, who have received backing from Iran. The conflict in Yemen began in September 2014 when Houthi rebels captured the capital of Sanaa. Thousands of people have been killed in the ongoing civil war. As part of a coalition, Saudi Arabia began airstrikes in Yemen last March.
AQAP has reportedly exploited the ongoing conflict by taking over significant parts of southern Yemen.
The U.S. has targeted AQAP many times in recent years, and in 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric, who had reportedly become an al Qaeda leader in Yemen, was killed in an airstrike.