US commandos secretly help Saudi troops in Yemen war: Report
Iran Press TV
Thu May 3, 2018 06:03PM
A recent report says the US has expanded its role in Riyadh's bloody war on Yemen well beyond mere arms sales and logistical support by secretly deploying a team of elite commandos to the Yemeni border to help the Saudi military in battles against the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Citing US and European officials, The New York Times reported Thursday that about a dozen commandos with the US Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets, had been deployed in December 2017 to Saudi Arabia's southern border regions.
The secretive mission, according to the report, is aimed at helping Saudi forces locate Yemeni missile launch sites and destroy the missile supplies of the Houthi movement, Yemen's de facto military power, which has been defending the country, along with allied forces, against the Saudi aggression.
The New York Times, however, said there was no indication that the commandos had crossed into Yemen.
The report cited a half-dozen officials from the US as well as European and Arab countries as saying on condition of anonymity that the American commandos were "training" Saudi ground troops to secure their border in the face of counter-attacks from Yemen.
The American special forces are using spy aircraft that can collect electronic signals to track the weapons in Yemen and their launch sites, the officials added.
The Saudi troops are also closely cooperating with US intelligence experts in the southern Saudi city of Najran, which has been target of several Yemeni retaliatory attacks, the report added.
The deployment took place weeks after a ballistic missile fired from Yemen hit close to the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The kingdom claimed it had intercepted the missile, but footage and photos later shared of the strike cast serious doubt on that claim.
Yemeni forces regularly fire ballistic missiles at positions inside Saudi Arabia in retaliation for Riyadh's attacks against their country.
Riyadh often claims that it intercepts incoming Yemeni missiles, but a close study of evidence by The New York Times last year clearly suggested that in one of the most high-profile of such Yemeni missile attacks, the projectile, launched deep into Saudi territory, had in fact landed unimpeded, bypassing American-made Patriot missiles and potentially other defenses used by Riyadh.
The Green Beret operation apparently runs contrary to the Pentagon's claims that the Washington's contribution to the Saudi-led war against Yemen is limited to aircraft refueling, logistics and general intelligence sharing.
US congressmen have pressed President Donald Trump's administration to reveal more about the military mission in Yemen, while some have proposed legislation that would limit Washington's role in the deadly war, which has killed and injured thousands of Yemeni people, according to the latest figures.
Enjoying strong support from the US and the UK, the Saudi regime and a group of its allies unleashed the military campaign against Yemen in March 2015 in the hope of crushing the Houthi movement and reinstalling a former Riyadh-friendly government.
Taking advantage of the Saudi war on Yemen, Washington has significantly stepped up its weapons sales over the past years.
A February report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia has increased its arms purchases by 225 percent over the past five years, importing 98 percent of its weapons from the US and EU countries.
Washington's weapon sales to Saudi Arabia include a $110-billion deal signed last May when US President Donald Trump visited the kingdom in his maiden foreign visit.
In March, when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the US, the State Department approved the sale of an estimated $670 million in anti-tank missiles in an arms package that also included spare parts for American-made tanks and helicopters previously bought by Riyadh.
Besides its complicity in the Saudi war, the US military is also engaged in a separate mission in Yemen, where Washington has been conducting airstrikes against what it claims to be al-Qaeda militants. Reports, however, say civilians have been the main victims.
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