Latest US Special Forces Raid in Yemen
US Kills 7 Al-Qaida Militants in Yemen Raid
The U.S. military says it killed seven militants from al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen during a counter-terrorism raid.
U.S. Central Command said during the raid Tuesday, May 23, in Marib Governate U.S. forces used airstrikes and small arms to kill the militants at a compound associated with Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to the Voice of America.
“Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP’s disposition, capabilities and intentions, which allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP,” said a CENTCOM statement.
The U.S. said the operation was done with the Yemeni government’s support.
Continuing Special Operations Against AQAP
U.S. warplanes and drones carried out airstrikes in March targeting AQAP in other parts of Yemen.
And in January U.S. commandos raided another AQAP complex in an operation that left Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens dead. Among those killed during the raid was Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old American daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric and U.S. citizen who was himself targeted and killed by a drone strike in 2011.
AQAP has long been seen by the U.S. as a major terror threat. In 2010, the group attempted to send explosives-laden packages to the U.S. The year before, it sent Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, an Awlaki recruit, to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on a flight bound for the Detroit.
Yemen could see as many as 250,000 new cases of cholera within six months, in addition to 50,000 already reported, the World Health Organization said Friday.
Yemen Cholera Epidemic Made Worse by Conflict
“The speed of the resurgence of this cholera epidemic is unprecedented,” Nevio Zagaria, WHO country representative for Yemen, told reporters during a conference call on Friday, according to the Voice of America.
He said the death toll from the outbreak has already reached 240 and more than 50,000 cases have been registered in the past three weeks.
State of Emergency
Two years into a war between Houthi rebels and government forces allied with a Saudi-led Arab military coalition, which has killed more than 8,000 people, Yemen has declared a state of emergency Sunday in the capital, Sana’a, over the outbreak.
Fighting has taken a toll on medical facilities in the war-torn country, as more than half of Yemen’s facilities, which are now operated by Houthi rebels, no longer function.
The U.N. says some 17 million of Yemen’s 26 million people lack sufficient food and at least three million malnourished children are in “grave peril.”
Yemen, which is the Arab world’s poorest nation, is now classified by the World Health Organization as a level three emergency, alongside Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria and Iraq. This is the country’s second cholera outbreak in less than a year.
Cholera is highly contagious and can be contracted from ingesting contaminated food and water.
Pentagon Briefing on the Yemen Raid
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is a formidable terror group that remains intent on attacking Americans and the U.S. homeland, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of Pentagon press operations, told reporters Tuesday, May 23.
Davis detailed the U.S. Special Operations counte-rterrorism raid that killed seven al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in Yemen’s Marib governorate, located about 150 miles north of Aden, the country’s capital, according to a Department of Defense release.
Special Forces raided an al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula compound comprising a few buildings, he said, adding, “[al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was] using this as a headquarters, a place to meet and plan for external operations and to lead the group.”
First U.S. Raid Deep In Yemen
The raid marked the first time the United States conducted an operation into Marib governorate, and the location was the deepest the military has gone into Yemen to fight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Davis said.
“The intent of the raid was to disrupt AQAP operations,” he said, noting that “at least” seven al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula militants were killed with small-arms fire and precision airstrikes from an AC-130 gunship.
No civilian casualties were reported, and based on observations on the ground and in the sky, there are no credible indications of such casualties, Davis said.
AQAP are Dangerous Terrorists
“AQAP has significant amounts of American blood on its hands,” he said. “It is an organization that has used the ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terrorist attacks against America, our citizens and our allies around the world.”
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula attacked the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2008; attempted to down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day in 2009; and conspired to send explosive-laden parcels to Chicago in 2010, he said.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language magazine, Inspire, also has been used to encourage attacks against the West, Davis said, citing multiple attacks that include the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the Fort Hood mass shooting in 2009 and other lone-wolf attacks in the United States and Europe.
Yemen Authorized Operation
Yesterday’s raid was conducted under the same U.S. authorities as those granted in advance of the earlier, Jan. 28 raid, which included authorities for airstrikes and follow-on action, he said.
The operation had the support and cooperation of the Yemen government, and was done in conjunction with U.S. partners, the spokesman said.
“We will continue to support Yemen in bringing stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP,” Davis said.
Image: US Army Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Joint Operation Access Exercise, Fort Bragg, 14 Feb 2011.