Yemen, (TFC)– Sources are reporting a member of SEAL Team 6 has been confirmed KIA in Yemen. The fresh causality followed an assault on reputed al-Qaeda militants. Among other things, the operation marks the first confirmed Trump Administration night raid. It’s first, marred by the slaying of a clandestine operator.
An alleged firefight, officials say, led to the death of 36-year-old Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens. The cryptic JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) unit reportedly launched the operation at dawn. This eventually erupted in an “hourlong battle”, New York Times reports, in which four other operatives were wounded.
Officials also reported an aircraft’s “hard landing” while retrieving wounded JSOC fighters. Airstrikes later followed the crash, deliberately eliminating the craft for asset denial. Wounded operatives and other fighters, NY Times reports, were then evacuated by different craft. The President’s own spent one SEAL for “al-Qaeda leader” Abdulrauf al Dhahab.
Relatives of the alleged militant were reported killed by drone strike in 2012, Washington Post reports. Those strikes occurred when drone operations, bombings, and raids were still growing in Yemen. Now, the country is embroiled in an intensely violent sectarian war. Civilians, particularly countless children, especially suffer from the violence.
Operatives reputedly exchanged fire with Al-Qaeda militants, killing 14 individuals in all. As a catch, JSOC claims to have slain a brother-in-law of Anwar al-Awlaki. The deceased cleric, killed in a 2011 drone strike, was one of the first American’s to be openly subjected to extrajudicial assassination. Shortly afterward his teenage son–whilst looking for his father–was also targeted.
Inconsistent answers were provided as to why a teenage American boy died in a signature strike. That pattern continues in this most recent raid, regarding civilian deaths. First, officials claimed no civilians were killed, then retracted that. Now, inquiries into reports of women and children being killed by JSOC’s operation are underway. The 2012 targets, brothers Kaid and Nabil al-Dhahab, were also in-laws of al-Awlaki.
Yemeni officials, more open about civilian casualties, counted eight women and seven children. According to NY Times, al-Qaeda “supporters” claimed al-Awlaki’s young daughters–but no militant leader–died in the raid. Officials again revised statements on January 30th, 2017, marking the women as combatants.
“There were a lot of female combatants”, claimed Department Of Defense spokesman Captain Jeff Davis. “We saw during this operation”, he continued, “that female fighters ran to pre-established positions as though they’d been trained to be ready”. Davis asserted the women looked “trained to be combatants”, downplaying reports of female deaths. “In many cases, and certainly this one”, he said, “females can be legitimate combatants.”
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi, however, blasted the raid on Twitter. “The extrajudicial killing of civilians are condemned acts that support terrorism.” Outgoing defense secretary Ash Carter, in his last press conference, gave similar insights.
Before Yemen’s recent war; American operations more than once spilled civilian blood they later re-branded as militants. Such acts, a group of villagers targeted with cruise missile bombardments–killing women, children, and livestock–explained, only motivates retaliation.
Locals who witnessed Trump’s first attack reported houses being bombed before they fled. Others reported a mosque, hospital, and school having been damaged. Faisal Mohamed–a Bayda official–claimed his two sons also witnessed the attack. The boys saw skies “crowded with helicopters”, and “people jumping out of planes.” “The last thing they said to me”, Mohamed recalls, “was that the whole town is devastated now.”
The strike’s planning began under the Obama Administration months before, NY Times reports. Officials claim careful debate, and cost-benefit analysis’ stalemated developments until Trump arrived. In a hasty ploy to deliver campaign promises, Trump’s administration gave the go-ahead for JSOC’s raid.
According to New York Times, operators waited for a “moonless night” to strike the alleged al-Qaeda militants. Though unclear, operator’s were most likely targeting “computer materials inside the house” for intelligence purposes. Despite the dead SEAL and possibility of (now confirmed) civilian casualties, Trump called the raid “successful”. Military officials pressed the importance of past raids, which have collected all manner of digital equipment.
This particular story is so cramped with nuance that it almost drowns itself out. First, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens represents the third known SEAL to be killed in the last year. The others have died as the result of engagements with Islamic State militants, and are among marines sharing similar fates.
Second, it’s Trump’s first raid, and who knows what all was lost. SEALs and civilians aside, what sort of geopolitical damage was wrought by the operation? How successful does JSOC’s hierarchy feel the op was? Is this exemplary of just one Trump military action, or could it get even worse?
What’s more, the raid follows similar ops in Syria in the last days of the Obama Administration. In all cases, the victims are nameless, faceless ghosts disappeared by American bombs, and ground-side operators. How often are the victim’s actually al-Qaeda? Too many questions preside over these operations by nature. Under a Trump reign, god knows what fruits will sprout from America’s dark wars, and their victims.