Series of USA airstrikes in central Yemen

03 March, 2017, 01:17 | Author: Essie Rivera

The United States conducted air strikes overnight Thursday against several suspected al Qaeda targets across south-central Yemen, according to USA and Yemeni military officials, the first US attacks in the country since an ill-fated Special Operations raid in January.

The U.S. official familiar with the intelligence gathered from the raid told ABC News that information obtained in the January 28 raid included contacts on hundreds of AQAP sympathizers in the Middle East and in the West.

In his first nationally televised speech to Congress since taking office on January 20, Trump acknowledged in the audience the widow of U.S. Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, who was killed in the operation.

The U.S government considers AQAP to be the most risky al-Qaeda branch because of its emphasis and reputation for plotting attacks on overseas targets.

The airstrikes Thursday in areas under AQAP's control marked the first USA combat action in Yemen's civil war since the January 29 raid and were coordinated with Yemen's nominal president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, according to the Pentagon statement by Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman.

This is the first USA military action in Yemen since January's Navy SEAL raid that killed Senior Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens.

The strikes targeted al-Qaeda positions, weapons systems and equipment in a remote and mountainous area in central Yemen.

A week ago, Human Rights Watch called on the USA to investigate the January raid, saying it needs to "provide a full accounting of possible laws-of-war violations".

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Since only members of Al Qaeda and their supporters live in the area targeted, it is hard to get more information on the strikes, the journalist said.

The Obama administration regularly used drones to attack Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Still, one US official suggested Thursday's strikes - which included use of USA drones and manned aircraft - had been in the planning stages before the January raid.

The militants overran Shaqra early last month just days after the January 29 USA raid on one of their compounds in Baida province further north that cost the life of a Navy Seal.

He had no immediate word on any casualties. Yemeni media have also reported up to 25 civilians, including children, were killed during a gun battle between Marines and al-Qaida militants. US officials also found information regarding training camps used by the groups, explosive-manufacturing techniques, and possible targets being considered by the terrorist group.

"This was a mission that was started before I got here", Trump said.

The White House has pushed back against criticism of the raid, the first of its kind authorized by Trump as commander in chief.

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