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    The al-Qaeda insurgents in Yemen on Thursday seized the international Riyan Airport, air defense headquarters and an oil terminal in the country's southeastern port city of Mukalla, a local source told Sputnik

    US Military Team Heads to Yemen to Help in the Fight Against al-Qaeda

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    The US military announced Friday the deployment of a small contingent of armed forces on the ground in Yemen to offer intelligence support in the United Arab Emirate's fight for the port city of Al Mukalla, against an al-Qaeda offshoot extremist group.

    After evacuating military personnel in March 2015, the US has re-entered the ground war in Yemen by deploying a small team of troops to support the Gulf ally's offensive targeting the al-Qaeda affiliate.

    Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis stated at a news briefing that the team arrived in the region less than two weeks ago to provide UAE forces with intelligence support, medical assistance, operational planning help, maritime security and aerial refueling.

    The US ground forces are supported by Navy ships positioned offshore, including the assault ship USS Boxer, destroyers USS Gravely and USS Gonzalez, as well as quick-response Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

    Members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized al-Mukalla last year amid the expanding Yemeni civil war. Late last month Yemeni and Emirati troops launched an operation to oust the violent extremist group from the coastal town.

    "AQAP remains a significant security threat to the United States and to our regional partners and we welcome this effort to specifically remove AQAP from Mukalla and to degrade, disrupt and destroy AQAP in Yemen," Davis said.

    He didn't specify how many US soldiers were assisting the ground mission in Yemen, but said it was a "very small number." He declined to say whether any other American ground forces are in Yemen.

    The Pentagon also stated that the US has conducted four airstrikes against the extremist group, independent of the UAE's Al Mukalla push, since April 23, in which 10 al-Qaeda members have been killed and one injured.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    deployment, ground troops, Jeff Davis, United States, UAE, Yemen
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