The U.S. has moved two amphibious warships close to Yemen as a precaution against an ongoing militia uprising in the region, Pentagon officials said on Wednesday.
Amphibious warships USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) and USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) with embarked elements of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU) are on station in the southern part of the Red Sea near the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, a defense official told USNI News on Tuesday.
“We are continuing to closely monitor the situation in Yemen,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said on Wednesday.
“The [USS] Iwo Jima and [USS] Fort McHenry are on station, and between those two warships, there’s enough combat power to respond to whatever contingency may come up.”
One contingency could include non-combatant evacuation of U.S. citizens from the country. The Pentagon wouldn’t say how many civilians that would entail.
The Shite-offshoot rebels have led two days of unrest in the capital of Sanaa seeking more power in the country and autonomy in North Yemen.
The two ships of the Iwo Jima amphibious ready group (ARG) are embarked with landing vehicles, helicopters, MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and more than 2,000 U.S. Marines.
Yemen has been a key U.S. ally in hunting members of the group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP claimed responsibility for the January attack in Paris on the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.