US Troops on the Ground in Yemen, Navy Ships Positioned Nearby: DoD

Staff Sgt Jeffrey S. Ray, a drill Instructor at MCRD Parris Island S.C., speaks to a delegation of officers from Yemen. (U.S. Marines photo/Gunnery Sgt. Christian Harding)
Staff Sgt Jeffrey S. Ray, a drill Instructor at MCRD Parris Island S.C., speaks to a delegation of officers from Yemen. (U.S. Marines photo/Gunnery Sgt. Christian Harding)

A small team of U.S. troops has deployed on the ground in Yemen to help Emirati forces in a fight for a port city against an al-Qaeda offshoot, the Pentagon said Friday.

The service members were sent to the region about two weeks ago.

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer and its amphibious ready group of vessels with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are positioned offshore to back up the team on the ground and support the forces of the United Arab Emirates in assisting Yemeni government forces against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Yemeni and UAE operations recently ousted the terrorist group from the port of Mukalla.

Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to say how many U.S. troops were on the ground in Yemen but said "we view this as a short-term operation" and they were expected to be withdrawn soon.

Davis also confirmed that the U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against the terrorist group apart from the effort to assist the Emiratis. He said four airstrikes have been carried out since April 23, killing an estimated 10 terrorists.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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