Many Civilians Among the Dead After US Raid in Yemen

Yemen (Sputnik) – A US military raid in Yemen January 29 resulted in the deaths of one US commando, more than a dozen militants and perhaps dozens of civilians, among them women and children.

The death of the US soldier marks the first combat death of the administration of US President Donald Trump, and its first operation against al-Qaeda in Yemen, Reuters reports.

US Central Command reports that one of its soldiers died, three were injured in a firefight and 14 al-Qaeda militants, the targets of the southern Yemen raid, were killed. One other solider was injured when his aircraft had a “hard landing” and was subsequently intentionally destroyed.

Yemeni security and tribal officials identified three senior Al Qaeda leaders slain in the surprise early morning raid, reports: Abdulraouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab and Seif al-Nims.

An Al Qaeda member, speaking to AP, called the raid a “massacre,” and Reuters cites local medics saying 30 people were killed, among them 10 women and three children.

One of the children was eight-year old Anwar al-Awlaki, the daughter of preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, believed the US to be a high-level al-Qaeda recruiter and killed in a US drone strike in 2011.

“She was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours. Why kill children? This is the new administration — it’s very sad, a big crime,” her grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, told Reuters.

By Ibrahem Qasim – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Local residents say the raid began with a drone strike on al-Dhabhab’s house, followed by Apache helicopters that unloaded paratroopers into the area. Tribal officials said the soldiers were looking for al-Qaeda leader Qassim al-Rimi, and that they took at least two captured individuals with them.

Five al-Qaeda operatives were killed by US airstrikes earlier in January, according to US Central Command.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has used the havoc wreaked by Yemen’s year’s long civil war, aided by Saudi Arabia and armed by the US, to seize territory in the country’s south and east.

American forces had not conducted any special operations in Yemen since December 2014, just before war broke out, Reuters notes, though Barack Obama’s administration bombarded it with drone strikes.

This report prepared by Sputnik.