TODAY   |  August 07, 2013

State Dept. tells Americans to leave Yemen

After non-essential U.S. embassy staff were evacuated, American citizens in Yemen were told to leave the country as a U.S.-Yemeni government fight against al Qaeda intensifies. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>> want more on the terror threat now. richard engle is in kcairo this morning. what's the latest?

>> reporter: the later is that counter terrorism efforts are intensifying today in yemen . first, u.s. officials identified this al qaeda threat and are now moving to disrupt it. foreigners and some yemenis today at the international airport in yemen 's capitol leaving the country. american citizens have been told by the state department to leave after nonessential u.s. embassy staff were evacuated on a c-17. they're getting out of harms way and clearing the battlefield because a joint u.s. yemeni government fight is intensifying. at least two drone strikes in 48 hours . part of an offensive authorized by the white house over the last ten days following a lull. over the ancient walled capitol with it's unique whitewashed houses, witnesses have seen american surveillance aircraft. yemeni counter terrorism forces like these are trained and funded by the u.s. an american official said the trainers are still in yemen and busy. this group doesn't hide. it wants to control the country and overnight it shot down a yemeni military helicopter. u.s. officials say al qaeda in yemen was given an order for a big attack and it still stands. the u.s. and yemeni governments are trying to stop it or delay it by disrupting the group's operations. yemeni officials say they believe al qaeda 's plot was to blow up oil and gas facilities inside yemen and take over two ports and have put extra security measures in place. savannah.

>> all right. richard engle with the latest. thank you very