WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- A group of about 20 U.S. special forces are on the ground in Yemen, helping the government fight insurgents in the south of the country, officials say.
Their work includes using high-tech equipment to help the Yemeni military locate targets, the Los Angeles Times reported. The new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadid, is reported to be more willing to work with the United States than his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down after months of protests.
"There are ways of checking their homework," a senior U.S. defense official said. "They've been trusted partners."
The United States withdrew special operations forces last year because of the political unrest, but said last week they had been returned.
U.S. officials said the military effort in Yemen specifically targets insurgents tied to al-Qaida.
"We're pursuing a focused counter-terrorism campaign in Yemen designed to prevent and deter terrorist plots that directly threaten U.S. interests at home and abroad," said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. "We have not, and will not, get involved in a broader counterinsurgency effort. That would not serve our long-term interests and runs counter to the desires of the Yemeni government and its people."