Araweelo News Network

People inspect damage at a site hit by Saudi-led airstrikes in the port city of Mukalla in southern Yemen. (File photo)

Washington(ANN)-The US military says it has carried out more than 120 airstrikes and “multiple” ground operations in Yemen in 2017.

“US forces have enabled regional counterterrorism partners to regain territory from these terrorists — forcing them to spend more time on survival,” US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement on Wednesday.

“These operations have helped to illuminate [sic] terrorist networks, making intelligence-gathering, subsequent targeting and follow-on operations increasingly productive and effective,” he added.

Earlier this year President Donald Trump authorized the military to conduct airstrikes against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) without notifying the government in regions designated as areas with “active hostilities.”

On Wednesday, CENTCOM praised the strikes for assassinating several al-Qaeda leaders: Mujahid al-Adani, AQAP Shabwah leader; Abu Layth al-Sanaani, Al-Bayda governorate AQAP facilitator; Ruwahah al-Sanaani, also a facilitator; and Ubaydah al-Lawdari, emir of Lawdar district.

“Every strike, every raid and every partnered operation advance the defeat of these violent extremist organizations,” Brown said. “US forces will continue to use all effective measures to degrade the groups’ ability to export terror.”

Meanwhile, there has been a sharp rise in the number of US drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia since US Trump took office in January, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Graffiti in Sana’a protesting American drone strikes.

“In Yemen, 30 strikes hit within a month of the declaration being reported – nearly as many as the whole of 2016. Most of the 125 strikes in 2017 hit in central Yemen, where the US military’s Central Command vigorously pursued fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” said the bureau.

Yemen has come under regular US strikes, with Washington claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda militants while local sources say civilians have been the main victims.

The US has been contributing to the Saudi-led war on Yemen both directly, through intelligence sharing and logistical support, and indirectly, with the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Saudi regime.

On Wednesday, more than a dozen civilians were killed and several others injured when Saudi military aircraft carried out separate airstrikes against residential areas across Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate the former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.