Multiple U.S. special forces were recently injured during a raid against the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), considered the most potent branch of the jihadist group.
“The intent of the raid was to disrupt AQAP operations,” Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters, declining to reveal how many American troops were injured.
Capt. Davis did reveal that the U.S. forces sustained “ambulatory” injuries, which means they were able to take themselves off the battlefield.
He also noted that U.S. special forces killed “at least” seven al-Qaeda jihadists with small-arms fire and precision airstrikes from an AC-130 gunship, adding that “no civilian casualties were reported, and based on observations on the ground and in the sky, there are no credible indications of such casualties.”
The raid took place on May 23 (Yemen time), revealed U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is in charge of American military activities in the Middle East and the Afghanistan region.
“This operation was conducted with the support of the government of Yemen,” pointed out CENTCOM in a statement. “In conjunction with our Arab allies, the U.S. will continue to support their efforts in bringing stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP.”
Since March 2015, a U.S.-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been primarily combating Iran-allied Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Al-Qaeda has capitalized on the coalition’s nearly single-minded focus to capture territory and recruit fighters across Yemen.
“AQAP has significant amounts of American blood on its hands,” Capt. Davis told reporters. “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.”
CENTCOM added, “AQAP is a formidable terror group that remains committed and capable of attacking Americans and the U.S. homeland.”
Referring to the May 23 operation, Capt. Davis indicated that the “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.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has intensified U.S. operations against AQAP.
“Since Feb. 28, U.S. forces have conducted more than 80 strikes against AQAP militants, infrastructure, fighting positions, and equipment,” Maj. Josh Jaques, a spokesperson for CENTCOM, told Military Times.
During the May 23 raid, American troops targeted a series of buildings in Yemen’s Marib Governorate that were being used by AQAP.
The U.S. military “assessed” the structures “to be an AQAP safe haven linked to senior AQAP financial, media, and security leaders,” Maj. Jaques told Military Times.
Capt. David added that AQAP was using the buildings as its “headquarters, a place to meet and plan for external operations and to lead the group.”