U.S. warplanes launched over 30 air strikes in Yemen this week in a sustained assault on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Pentagon said on March 3.
Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the strikes targeted militant group members as well as their facilities and weapons, with at least 20 militants reported killed.
U.S. officials said Al-Qaeda in Yemen has grown to about 3,000 militants and the group has light anti-aircraft weapons and possibly shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles. The group has captured many weapons from the Yemeni government after years of civil war in the country.
Davis said the air strikes targeted areas where Al-Qaeda is most active. He said no U.S. ground troops have been involved in fighting there since a late-January special operations raid that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL.
The air strikes are aimed at "disrupting the terrorist organization's plots," Davis said. Al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate already has sponsored several attacks in the West and has vowed to pursue more.
The group "has more American blood on its hands" than the Islamic State, which the United States has been battling in Iraq for two years, Davis said.