US forces kill seven Al Qaeda militants in Yemen ground raid
WASHINGTON // US forces carried out a ground raid on an Al Qaeda compound in Yemen early on Tuesday morning, killing seven militants.
The American soldiers were airlifted by helicopter to the central province of Marib, where they carried out the raid with the support of Yemeni authorities.
“During this operation, US forces killed seven AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) militants through a combination of small arms fire and precision airstrikes,” said Centcom, the US military command for the Middle East.
“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.”
Yemeni tribal sources said the operation targeted a residential block held by Al Qaeda fighters in the mountainous village of Al Hathla in southeastern Marib. During the operation, which US officials described as an intelligence-gathering raid, American soldiers clashed with militants, resulting in seven being killed. US officials said there were no known American or civilian deaths.
The killed militants were all members of the same Al Aadhal tribe, the Yemeni tribal sources said.
Since US president Donald Trump took office in January, the United States has increased attacks against AQAP, which has taken advantage of the intensifying conflict in Yemen to increase its presence.
The Marib raid is the second publicly-known US ground deployment in Yemen this year against Al Qaeda militants, and comes after a late January special operations raid that resulted in the deaths of multiple civilians and a US navy Seal.
The January raid was the first authorised by Mr Trump, who drew criticism after he blamed “the generals” for having “lost” navy Seal Ryan Owens.
Washington, which has carried out more than 80 strikes against Al Qaeda militants in Yemen since February, regards AQAP to be the most dangerous branch of the extremist group. The affiliate boasts one of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Hassan Al Asiri.
* Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and Reuters