WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Yemen should be commended for its ability to take on the threat from al-Qaida within its borders, U.S. Defense Department officials said in Washington.
Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department, praised Yemen for cooperating in the fight against al-Qaida.
"The fact of the matter is that Yemeni officials and government ought to be commended for taking on the al-Qaida threat that exists in their country," he said. "Yemen has a growing al-Qaida threat and the government has taken the important steps to address it."
The Pentagon said the Yemeni government was responsible for airstrikes on al-Qaida positions Dec. 19. Several reports accused the U.S. military of conducting aerial raids in the region, however.
The New York Times reported this week that the U.S. intelligence community set up operations inside Yemen to monitor al-Qaida activity in the country as early as 2008.
Washington has admitted to working alongside Yemeni forces in a training capacity. The Pentagon described the relationship with Yemen as "good," adding Washington has transferred military equipment and spare parts to Yemen.
The Defense Department added Washington has spent roughly $67 million to support Yemeni military activities.
Al-Qaida leaders in Yemen, meanwhile, have rallied support in the south of the country, calling on backers to launch attacks against foreign embassies.