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This Is What Led To The US Navy Launching Missiles Into Yemen
In the early morning hours on Oct. 13 the USS Nitze, a United States Navy destroyer, launched cruise missile strikes to destroy three coastal radar sites in Yemen. The sites were controlled by Houthi forces, a rebel group closely aligned with Iran.
The attack was in retaliation for a series of failed missile strikes against the USS Mason, a U.S. Navy destroyer operating in the Red Sea off of Yemen’s southern coast. On Oct. 8 and Oct. 12, as many as three missiles splashed down in the water before reaching the USS Mason.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze perfoms an anti-submarine formation exercise with the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason auxiliary oiler replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria and the Anzac-class frigate HMAS Perth.U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Janweb B. Lagazo
In the wake of the missile attack, the United States retaliated, marking the first time it has taken direct military action in Yemen’s year-long civil war. Here’s what you should know about the conflict thus far and how the U.S. military ended up in the middle of Yemen’s ongoing war.
Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since September 2015.
Located on the southern edge of Arabian Peninsula, Yemen plunged into civil war when the Houthi forces, a Shiite rebel group, moved into the capital city of Sanaa and overthrew the country’s internationally recognized government and its president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Houthi forces are allied with those loyal to Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and backed by Iran, a Shiite power.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries launched a military campaign against Houthi forces.
The mission, in large part, served as a counterbalance to Iran’s influence in Yemen. The coalition retook the port city of Aden and gained ground in southern Yemen. However, a ground offensive to retake Sanaa by the coalition would involve street-by-street fighting, and likely result in heavy civilian casualties. For the time being, the Saudi-led coalition has relied on air power, but the ongoing civil war has taken a heavy toll. To date, the war has killed more than 10,000 people, nearly half of them civilians, reports NPR.
Shiite fighters, known as Houthis, ride on a patrol truck as they chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015.Associated Press photo by Hani Mohammed
The United States has become increasingly wary of direct involvement.
At the beginning of Saudi-led coalition’s campaign, the United States provided targeting assistance and logistical support, but has pulled back support due to rising civilian casualties caused by airstrikes.
Following an Oct. 8, 2016 airstrike on a funeral in Yemen’s capital that killed at least 140 people and injured more than 525 others, John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department announced that the United States is reconsidering its support of the coalition.
"In light of the attack over the weekend, with the scrutiny that attack legitimately calls for, we are going to undertake additional reviews of aid and assistance that goes to Saudi Arabia," Kirby said, according to an NPR report on the airstrike.
However, the attack on the USS Mason prompted the military to take direct action.
In response to failed the missile strike on the USS Mason, the USS Nitze launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, destroying three coastal radar sites within Yemen suspected to be under the control of Houthi forces on Oct. 13, 2016.
Following the U.S. military strike, the Pentagon released a statement declaring that future attacks on American warships may face a similar response.
“Those who threaten our forces should know that US commanders retain the right to defend their ships, and we will respond to this threat at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner," said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook in a statement, according to CNN.
The recent strikes against the radar sites aimed to neutralize the Houthi rebels’ ability to track and target U.S. ships. Reuters reports that the rebels are still believed to possess missiles that could pose a threat to vessels in the area, and the U.S. officials expect that the rebels’ arms are supplied by Iran. The coastal defense cruise missiles fired at the USS Mason had considerable range, with one traveling more than two-dozen nautical miles before splashing into the Red Sea.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is warning that it's "absolutely a given" that ISIS will come back if the U.S. doesn't keep up pressure on the group, just one week after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from northern Syria.
"It's in a situation of disarray right now. Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks, and we'll have to see if they're able to maintain the fight against ISIS," Mattis said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," set to air on Sunday. "It's going to have an impact. The question is how much?"