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US stepping up its covert war in Yemen, reports say

The US is escalating its involvement in the Yemen conflict, helping Sanaa target Al Qaeda and other insurgents there, while President Barack Obama on Wednesday issuing an executive order to freeze the assets of anyone considered to be threatening the political transition in the country.

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An image taken with a mobile phone allegedly shows an armed vehicle driving in Loder, in the restive southern Abyan province, as clashes continued between Al Qaeda militants and the Yemeni army forces on May 16, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

The US is escalating its involvement in the Yemen conflict, helping Sanaa target Al Qaeda and other insurgents there, while President Barack Obama on Wednesday issuing an executive order to freeze the assets of anyone considered to be threatening the political transition in the country.

The LA Times cited US and Yemeni officials as saying a small group of US special operations troops was providing targeting data for Yemeni airstrikes in the country’s restive south.  

Using satellite imagery, drone video other high-tech means, a joint US military-CIA operation was heavily involved in an offensive that intensified in Yemen this week.

More from GlobalPost: Army offensive against Al Qaeda in Yemen kills 16

US forces were also advising the Yemeni military on where and when to deploy their troops, the Times cited two senior Obama administration officials as saying.

Yemen is a key partner in the US war on terrorism, with American officials concerned that political instability in the Arabian Peninsula state will enable Al Qaeda and affiliates to expand their influence.

According to VOA, the order allows the Treasury Department to freeze the US-based assets of those who the White House says “threaten the peace, security and stability” of Yemen.

The order does not immediately levy any penalties against specific people or organizations, but covers those who have "materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support" for obstructing the peaceful political process and transfer of power.

According to Reuters, the order aims to bolster President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took over from Ali Abdallah Saleh, forced out in February as a consequence of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Reuters wrote that Hadi had given Washington much greater latitude to attack Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group blamed for a failed Christmas Day 2009 underwear bomb attack.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120516/yemen-al-qaeda-cia-us-military-obama