US strikes Yemen more in a few weeks than it did all last year

Story highlights

  • The total US strikes in Yemen for a full year have never before been estimated above 40
  • From February to the opening weekend of April, there were 70

Washington (CNN)From the very end of February to the opening weekend of April, the US conducted dozens more airstrikes in Yemen than it had on record in any previous year.

A report from the Department of Defense, citing Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said the weekend's airstrikes brought the total number of US strikes in Yemen from that time to 70.
Estimates from the Long War Journal, a Foundation for the Defense of Democracies project, have never shown the total US strikes in Yemen for a full year reaching 40, and estimates of drone strikes alone in Yemen from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism showed roughly the same numbers.
The March activity came as Yemen's civil war reached its second anniversary and President Donald Trump had finished his first full month on the job.
Trump has granted the Pentagon increased independence to conduct their own missions in Yemen, and the Trump administration has considered a plan to increase US involvement there.
Additionally, March marked the beginning of the sixth month of the US-led coalition's attempt to retake Mosul, Iraq, from ISIS.
The US military said ISIS has increasingly attempted to use civilians as shields and coax the coalition into strikes. The US is investigating its coalition for a March 17 strike that resulted in the deaths of over 100 civilians. The US-led coalition recently released a report saying its strikes had likely killed at least 229 civilians in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Outside groups suggested this figure was low.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported civilian deaths and injuries in the country had ticked up to their highest point since at least 2009. The report attributed 61% of civilian casualties to "anti-government elements," mainly the Taliban.
Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, told Congress in February that the situation in Afghanistan was at a "stalemate" following nearly 16 years of war and said he needed a few thousand more troops.