Amid a major humanitarian crisis in Yemen as a result of a Saudi-led military intervention, the United States has increased its airstrikes in the Middle East’s most improvised country three folds this year compared to 2016, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
More than 120 U.S. bombs were dropped on Yemen mostly by unmanned drones since President Donald Trump took office in January as part of Washington’s decades-long “war on terror”. A report by the Council on Foreign Relations indicates that the U.S. dropped 34 bombs on Yemen in 2016.
The strikes targeted al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen, the terror group's biggest franchise in the world, as well as fighters of the Islamic State group who have been gaining a foothold in the country over the past two years due to the ongoing civil war between Saudi-backed forces and Houthi rebels.
"These operations have helped to illuminate terrorist networks, making intelligence gathering, subsequent targeting and follow-on operations increasingly productive and effective," Lieutenant Colonel Earl Brown, a spokesman for the military's Central Command, said in a statement.
The Pentagon also admitted that multiple ground operations have taken place in the country this year. While the U.S. claims that it only targets militants, many civilian casualties have been reported as a result of such strikes over the years.
Shortly after Trump took office he authorized a covert ground operation against an al-Qaida leader, killing him but also claiming the lives of more than 30 civilians including 10 women and three children. Also in April three Yemeni civilians were reportedly killed by a U.S. drone strike.
Meanwhile Yemen has also been under air and ground attack by Saudi Arabia and its allies since March 2015, a conflict that has so far killed more than 10,000 people, more than half of them are civilians, according to international aid agencies. The war has also displaced millions of Yemenis and the country is almost completely under total blockade by U.S. major ally Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Yemen's Houthi movement with the objective of restoring its ally president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was driven into exile by the Houthis in late 2014.