Yemen raid killing civilians ‘very well thought out & executed’

3rd Feb 2017
Yemen raid killing civilians ‘very well thought out & executed’

By Michael Hernandez

 

WASHINGTON (AA): The Trump administration on Thursday defended a weekend raid on al-Qaeda positions in Yemen that left one Navy SEAL dead and killed an undetermined number of civilians.

“This was a very, very well thought out and executed effort,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

The military identified the slain SEAL as William “Ryan” Owens, and said three other service members were wounded in what became an unexpectedly ferocious firefight with al-Qaeda fighters, including women who fired from prepared positions.

An unknown number of non-combatant civilians were killed in the clashes, U.S. Central Command said in a statement released Wednesday.

U.S. service members were taking fire from all sides, including nearby houses and buildings, when they called in air support.

“In doing so, the enemy had gone to a building and taken up fighting positions in that building to fire on our troops that were on the ground conducting this operation. The enemy put potentially the civilians at great risk in doing so,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters.

The aerial fire was not originally planned for the mission, Davis said.

Among the civilian casualties killed was the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, according to her family. The senior al-Awlaki was al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s chief propagandist before being killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2011.

The raid in Yemen’s al-Bayda province was President Donald Trump’s first such overseas operation.

Davis defended the operation, saying the U.S. gained “valuable” intelligence on al-Qaeda during the mission.

It “resulted in the seizure of materials and information that will yield valuable intelligence to help partner nations deter and prevent future terror attacks in Yemen and across the world,” he said.

 

[Archive photo: Wreackage after Saudi-led coalition bombing factory in Daras region in Sanaa on 30 December 2015. Photographer: Mohammed Hamoud/AA]

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