(AA) – The U.S. does not want Saudi-led operations against Yemen to be an unlimited operation, the State Department said Friday.
Department spokesman Jeff Rathke refused to comment on whether the U.S. is supporting a ground invasion in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, but said the U.S. does not “want this to be an open-ended military campaign.”
Close U.S. allies in the Middle East have united against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels, but Washington shows no signs using U.S. troops in a military campaign.
The White House has so far limited itself to “providing support of a logistical nature, intelligence support and targeting assistance,” said Radthke.
While the U.S. and Iran interests clash in Yemen, both countries are fighting a common enemy in Iraq, namely Daesh. The U.S. conducted 17 airstrikes against Daesh targets in Tikrit on Wednesday. Iran launched an offensive against Daesh in the city earlier this month, to retake territory it ceded to the militants.
The common interest with Iran has raised speculation about how much information both countries are sharing in their fight against the terrorist group.
The U.S. set a precondition that “the Iraqi government had to be in charge” of operations in Tikrit, said Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command.
During a Senate hearing on Thursday, Austin said there were no Iranian-backed Shiite militias left on the ground in Tikrit, but only about 4,000 Iraqi military troops.
Despite the general’s assertion, Shiite militias continue to fight in the mainly Sunni populated city of Tikrit.
“What we have said is that this needs to be an Iraqi-led operation with concerted efforts to protect local populations” said Elissa Smith, Defense Department spokeswoman, responding to questions by The Anadolu Agency.
Iran-backed Shiite groups have already left Tikrit, she said.