The United States will expand its assistance to to the Saudi-led coalition targeting Houthi rebels in Yemen, and will provide more sensitive intelligence to help the coalition better target the Iran-allied fighters in the country.
The expanded assistance includes crucial intelligence data about potential Houthi targets in Yemen, Reuters reported, adding that the new information is expected to help Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies better review their plan to conduct airstrikes in Yemen more effectively. The U.S. has boosted its support for the Saudi-led coalition as over two weeks of unrelenting airstrikes have apparently failed to halt the advances of the Shiite Houthi militants.
“We have opened up the aperture a bit wider with what we are sharing with our Saudi partners,” a U.S. official told Reuters. “We are helping them get a better sense of the battlefield and the state of play with the Houthi forces. We are also helping identify ‘no strike’ areas they should avoid.”
Although the U.S. government has not commented on the stepped-up assistance, a White House representative told Reuters that the U.S. was providing necessary and timely intelligence to defend Saudi Arabia as well as to support “the legitimate government of Yemen.”
A senior U.S. government official said earlier this week that Washington was accelerating arms shipments and strengthening intelligence sharing with the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The government also announced that it had established a joint coordination planning cell in Saudi Arabia, and was beginning aerial refueling of Arab coalition jets, outside Yemeni airspace.
While the U.S. has criticized Iran’s alleged support to Houthi rebels, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen as “criminal acts,” and demanded an immediate closure of the air campaign, which has killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands since March.