US helicopters airlifted soldiers to a central Yemeni province where they targeted an al-Qaeda compound and killed at least seven militants Tuesday, reports the AP. Central Command said US forces killed the militants using "a combination of small-arms fire and precision airstrikes," with the primary goal being the collection of intelligence, reports the BBC. It was unclear what was retrieved on that front. The Defense Department, which did not mention any US casualties, said the operation was conducted with the support of Yemen's government. The raid in Marib province is the second publicly known US ground deployment in Yemen this year against al-Qaeda. The first, in January, resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL.
The United States also has stepped up airstrikes as part of a sustained assault on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in areas of Yemen where it is most active. Washington considers AQAP one of the most dangerous branches of the terror network. The January raid killed 25 civilians, including women and children, and sparked outrage in Yemen. For its part, al-Qaeda has used the chaos of Yemen's civil war to expand its footprint and recruitment efforts in the region.