Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Yemen raid kills seven Al-Qaeda militants: US military

WASHINGTON: US forces have carried out a ground raid on an Al-Qaeda compound in Yemen, killing seven militants, the Pentagon said late Monday.
The raid took place in Marib province in the early hours of Tuesday local time and was conducted 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,” Centcom, the US military command for the Middle East, said in a statement.
Local tribesmen confirmed a raid in the central Marib governorate, which is controlled by forces loyal to the Western-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, but said five people were killed and six others were wounded, all from the same extended family.
It was the latest operation by US forces against the AQAP, which has exploited a two-year-old civil war between the Iran-aligned Houthi and Hadi government to enhance its influence in the impoverished country.
The AQAP militants were killed “through a combination of small-arms fire and precision airstrikes” in Marib, with the support of the Yemeni government, the statement said.
“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,” it said.
Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters 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 US Special Forces troops.
Sources said that the attack began with drone strikes at a house in the southern Marib governorate near the border with the Al-Bayda governorate, followed by automatic fire from low-flying helicopters.
They said that five members of their Al-Moradi clan, a main tribe in Marib, had died in the operation and six others were wounded, adding that they were all civilians.
The January operation, the first of its kind authorized 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 Hadi government to try to widen its control and influence in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, one of the poorest in the Middle East.
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