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WASHINGTON, A small number of US forces are "supporting our regional counterterrorism partners in ongoing operations in Yemen" against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The support is meant, "to degrade the group's ability to coordinate external terrorist operations and to use Yemen territory as a safe place for terror plotting," the Pentagon said Friday.

Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters that "Shabwah Governorate has a heavy al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula presence."

He stressed that US support to the Yemeni people enhances stabilization efforts in the region, noting that eliminating the influence of al-Qaeda (in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the region) "will significantly degrade extremist activity in the area and set conditions for stabilization efforts in Yemen."

Davis indicated that US forces continue to conduct air strikes in Yemen against terrorist targets.

According to the spokesman, since February, "we've conducted more than 80 strikes against (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) militants, infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment and this is based upon the authorities granted in the operation that began" with the January raid, when US forces killed an estimated 14 al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists.

As for operations in Somalia, Davis confirmed that that the July 30 strike "killed one of al-Shabab's senior leaders, Ali Mohammed Hussein, also known as Ali Jabal."

He noted that the senior al-Shabab terrorist was one of the organization's leaders responsible for leading al-Shabab forces operating in the Mogadishu and Banadir regions, as well as planning and executing attacks against the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Davis affirmed "we continue to work there in Somalia in coordination with our partners with the Somali Defense Forces and other allies ... to systematically dismantle al-Shabab and to help achieve and bring stability and security throughout the region."


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