Last December, about a dozen U.S. Army Green Berets were deployed to Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen, a previously unreported "escalation of Western assistance to target Houthi fighters who are deep in Yemen," The New York Times reports.
Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since 2014, when the Houthi rebels — Shiite Muslims who are aligned with Iran — overthrew President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, an American counterterrorism ally. Saudi Arabia, another regional ally of the U.S. and a Sunni-majority country, led a military coalition that began bombing the Houthis in 2015; the rebels responded by firing missiles at Riyadh and other cities in the kingdom. "Yet there is no evidence that the Houthis directly threaten the United States," the Times adds, calling the rebels "an unsophisticated militant group with no operations outside Yemen." The organization has not even been classified as a terrorist group by America, making the escalation of U.S. special forces on the border noteworthy.
Officials who spoke with the Times said the American troops are training Saudi forces as well as assisting in surveillance with planes and other equipment. The goal appears to be locating and destroying missiles and launch sites used by Houthi rebels to target Saudi cities, and there is no evidence that the Americans have crossed into Yemen for secret missions. Read more about the conflict — and catastrophe — in Yemen at The Week.