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Qaeda suspects dead in drone strikes: Yemen officials

02 March, 2017, 19:30 | Author: Nadine Todd

USA forces on Tuesday conducted a series of air strikes in Yemen against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Pentagon said.

Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strikes were aimed at degrading the group's ability to "coordinate external terror attacks" and to limit its use of Yemen as a "safe space for terror plotting".

The first strike targeted the home of a known Al-Qaeda member in the Yashbum Valley in Shabwa province, a provincial security official told AFP.

"I just spoke to General [James] Mattis [the United States defence secretary], who reconfirmed that, and I quote, "Ryan [Owens, the U.S. soldier killed in the raid] was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies". USA forces will continue to work with the Government of Yemen to defeat AQAP and deny it the ability to operate in Yemen.

The widow of the Navy SEAL killed in the US ground raid in Yemen in late January attended President Trump's speech Tuesday night, and received an ovation when she was introduced.

In a separate incident, residents and local officials in the Gulf of Aden town of Shuqra in southern Yemen also reported air strikes in an adjacent mountain area where hundreds of al Qaeda militants are believed to be based.

The failed Yemen raid met criticisms from various quarters who questioned if it was a wise move for the new administration to approve it.

The first major foreign military operation on his term, President Trump has invested a lot of effort into portraying the operation as an unquestioned success.

The U.S. official said a list describing the broad range of intelligence gains from the raid fills more than three pages.

The Jan. 29 operation in Yemen has become politically charged.

I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, "Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies."

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

Yemen has been wracked by a civil war between forces loyal to the government and Houthi rebels. Yemeni media have also reported up to 25 civilians, including children, were killed during a gun battle between Marines and al-Qaida militants.

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