American Special Operations forces conducted a new ground raid against Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch early on Tuesday, killing seven terror operatives, military officials said.
The operation, led by a team of Navy SEALs and supported by an array of Special Operations forces, takes place as the Trump administration intensifies its counter-terrorism operations in Yemen, where al-Qaeda’s most virulent offshoot is believed to be plotting attacks against the West.
Shortly after taking office, President Trump approved an earlier, controversial raid that resulted in the death of one SEAL and a host of civilians, including children. U.S. military aircraft have also launched an intensified air campaign over Yemen, with over 80 air strikes on suspected militant facilities since Trump took office.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the operation, which occurred early on Tuesday local time, targeted a cluster of buildings believed to function as a headquarters for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen’s Marib governorate, some 30 miles north of the spot where the earlier Jan. 29 raid occurred.
The operation, which also included forces from the United Arab Emirates, was launched in part from the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship off the coast of Yemen. It aimed to recover digital and other material that could be used for intelligence purposes, and did not target a specific individual, officials said.
After the U.S. forces descended upon the compound under the cover of darkness, operatives began firing at the foreign troops, officials said.
As the firefight, reminiscent of the one that killed Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens in January, escalated, an AC-130 gunship was called onto the scene to conduct air strikes.
The operation also involved Apache helicopter gunships and drones, according to one defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an operation whose results were still being assessed.
In a statement, U.S. Central Command (Centcom), which overseas operations throughout the Middle East, said the suspected operatives were killed “through a combination of small-arms fire and precision airstrikes.”