The U.S. military now plans to keep a small force of Special Operations advisers in Yemen — deployed in April for a limited, short-term operation — for the foreseeable future, a step toward reestablishing a counterterrorism mission that was shut down last year by civil war.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations, said the team of about a dozen men would assist troops from the United Arab Emirates, who, along with other Arab forces, are seeking to track down militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most potent affiliate of the main al-Qaeda group.
The Pentagon recently dispatched another Special Operations team to Yemen on a separate mission to assess security and size up local figures who might cooperate with the United States in the future.
The decision to extend the U.S. troop presence around the city of Mukalla, which Emirati and Yemeni forces recently recaptured from AQAP, returns American troops to a country that had been a major focus of counterterrorism operations until intense factional fighting forced the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood declined to comment on the deployment of the U.S. Special Operations forces.
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