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US commando killed, 3 hurt in surprise assault on central Yemen

This file photo shows an Apache combat helicopter firing rockets.

The US military says one service member has lost his life and three others sustained injuries after special forces carried out an attack against a purported position of al-Qaeda militants in the central Yemeni province of Bayda.

The Central Command said in a statement on Sunday that 14 al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were killed in the dawn assault near Yakla village in the Rada’a district of the province, located about 210 kilometers southeast of the capital, Sana’a.

The statement added that the US forces had gained access to “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”

The Central Command further noted that a fourth service member was injured in a “hard landing” in a nearby location. The aircraft was “intentionally destroyed” after it was unable to fly afterward.

This is while medics at the scene said 30 people, including 10 women and three children, were killed as Apache combat helicopters struck the area from the air before commandos were dropped in for the raid.

“The operation began at dawn when a drone bombed the home of Abdulraoof al-Dhahab and then helicopters flew up and discharged paratroopers at his house and killed everyone inside,” one local resident said on condition of anonymity.

He added, “Next, the gunmen opened fire at the US soldiers who left the area, and the helicopters bombed the gunmen and a number of homes and led to a large number of casualties.”

According to some reports, a total of 57 people, including civilians, were killed in the assault. 

Meanwhile, an unnamed US military official said the surprise dawn raid in Yemen had been authorized by President Donald Trump.

AQAP has taken advantage of the chaos and breakdown of security in Yemen to tighten its grip on the southern and southeastern parts of the Arab country.

The US carries out drone attacks in Yemen and several other countries, claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda elements; but, local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.

American intelligence officials recently said as many as 117 civilians had been killed in at least 526 drone strikes conducted during former US President Barack Obama’s term in office. The attacks had been carried out in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere.

The drone strikes in Yemen continue alongside the Saudi military aggression against the impoverished conflict-ridden country.

People walk inside a local government compound destroyed by a recent Saudi airstrike in the northwestern city of Sa’ada, Yemen, on January 11, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

According to the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, the Yemeni conflict has claimed the lives of 10,000 people and left 40,000 others wounded.

McGoldrick told reporters in Sana’a on January 16 that the figure is based on lists of victims gathered by health facilities and the actual number might be higher.

The Saudi war on Yemen, which local sources say has killed at least 11,400 people, was launched in an attempt to bring back the former government to power.

The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools and factories.

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