ADEN, Yemen, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Intensified airstrikes launched by U.S. fighter jets and drones targeted several hideouts of suspected al-Qaida gunmen in three Yemeni provinces on Friday, residents told Xinhua.
According to local residents in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, a series of of U.S. airstrikes were launched on suspected al-Qaida positions in Wadi Yashbum area and coincided with anti-terror ground raids.
Official Yemeni sources said that U.S. gunships landed special American troops who conducted raids and engaged in battles with gunmen in both Shabwa and al-Bayda provinces, southeastern and central Yemen, respectively.
More than 11 were killed in fire exchange between U.S. forces and al-Qaida gunmen in the Saeed district of Shabwa province.
Witnesses confirmed that the U.S. warplanes and drones targeted populated areas in Shabwa resulting in damage to some houses.
In the central province of al-Bayda, U.S. airstrikes bombed a number of positions used by suspected al-Qaida gunmen early on Friday morning.
A Yemeni military official said on condition of anonymity that heavy navy bombardment on Mawjan and Modya districts of southern Abyan province.
Details about the casualty figures caused by the aerial and naval bombardment are not immediately available.
Friday's U.S. airstrikes and ground anti-Qaida operations came hours after Pentagon's spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement "more than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in Yemeni governorates of Abyan, al-Bayda and Shabwa."
The spokesman said that the strikes were conducted in partnership with the government of Yemen, and were coordinated with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Shabwa and central province of al-Bayda, where dozens of al-Qaida members are believed to be based, have been the focus of American-led airstrikes.
Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional Al-Qaida insurgencies in the Middle East.
The Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known locally as "Ansar al-Sharia," emerged in January 2009, claiming responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against Yemen's army and governmental institutions.
The AQAP and the IS-linked terrorists took advantage of the security vacuum and ongoing civil war to expand their influence and seize more territories in southern Yemen.
Security in Yemen has deteriorated since March 2015, when war broke out between the Shiite Houthi group, supported by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, many of them civilians.