The U.S. has launched two missile strikes against Al Qaeda targets in Yemen, two U.S. officials told Fox News, signaling an escalation of the Obama administration's fight against the terrorist organization.

The politically sensitive strikes Thursday, first reported by ABC News, supplement efforts already under way by the government of Yemen to go after Al Qaeda in the country, the officials told Fox News, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the operation.

Such an operation is particularly sensitive in Yemen. "It's very difficult for Yemen to ask the U.S. for help given the nature of their population and its views about the West," one official said. "And the U.S. doesn't want to compromise their ability to ask for help."

The United States has faced similar concerns in Pakistan, where reports of U.S. drone attacks on militants are common -- but never acknowledged publicly by the U.S. or by Pakistan.

In the new attacks, cruise missiles on Obama's orders hit a suspected Al Qaeda training camp north of Sanaa, the capital, and another site, where terrorists were thought to be plotting an attack on the U.S., ABC News reported, citing unnamed administration officials.

A Yemeni official contacted by ABC News insisted that the attacks were carried out by Yemen, not the United States. Yemeni forces also reportedly have targeted Al Qaeda in raids conducted at three locations.

Fox News' Justin Fishel contributed to this report.