WASHINGTON (AFP) – US military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who have killed six of 15 leaders of an Al-Qaeda affiliate there, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
President Barack Obama approved the operations, which began six weeks ago and involve several dozen troops from the US Joint Special Operations Command, which is dedicated to hunting down Al-Qaeda leaders, the Post said, citing unnamed officials.
Although US troops do not take part in raids in Yemen, they plan missions, develop tactics and provide weapons and ammunition, the Post said.
The United States also is sharing highly sensitive intelligence with Yemeni forces, including electronic and video intelligence, three dimensional terrain maps and analytical assessments of Al-Qaeda, it said.
The United States has previously acknowledged supporting the Yemenis with intelligence and training, but has provided no detail on its role in stepped up attacks on Al-Qaeda militants.
US focus on Yemen, however, has intensified since a thwarted attempt to bring down a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day, allegedly by a Nigerian trained in Yemen by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Post said the combined effort has resulted in more than two dozen ground raids and air attacks, including a December 24 attack approved by Obama against a compound where regional Al-Qaeda leaders were believed to be meeting.