US special forces kill al-Qaeda militants in raid on Yemen compound
The United States has increased attacks against AQAP - which has taken advantage of the chaos in the impoverished country - since Trump took office in January
Seven militants were killed during an intelligence-gathering raid by US Navy Seals against an al-Qaeda compound in Yemen on Tuesday morning, US officials said.
US Central Command said in a statement the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were killed “through a combination of small-arms fire and precision air strikes” in the Marib governorate, with the support of the Yemeni government.
“Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP’s disposition, capabilities and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP,” the statement said.
Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said separately that there were no known US casualties and the raid was carried out 40-45 km north of another US raid that took place in late January.
One of the US officials said there were no immediate reports of civilian casualties in the raid, which was carried out by members of the US Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6, the New York Times reported.
The January operation, the first of its kind authorised by US President Donald Trump, was hailed as a success by the White House and other US officials.
However, critics questioned the value of the mission after a US Navy Seal was killed. Women and children, as well as several militants, were also killed in the raid.
The US military has carried out more than 80 strikes in Yemen against al-Qaeda militants since February.
The group boasts one of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, and AQAP has been a persistent concern to the US government since a 2009 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
The militant group has also taken advantage of a civil war pitting the Iran-aligned Houthis against the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to try to widen its control and influence in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, one of the poorest in the Middle East.
The conflict has killed more than 8,000 people and wounded around 40,000, according to the UN’s World Health Organisation.
Seven ceasefires alongside UN-brokered peace efforts have so far failed to stop the fighting.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse