Saudi-backed Yemeni officials deny they banned US commando raids

Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi, the foreign minister of ousted Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, speaks to the media in Bern, Switzerland, on December 20, 2015. (Photo by Reuters)

Saudi-backed Yemeni officials have denied reports that they suspended permission for US special operations forces to run missions in the country, despite a US raid last month that killed up to 30 civilians.

“It’s not true what’s being said,” a Saudi-backed Yemeni official said Wednesday in Aden, where the ousted government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is based.

Abdel Malek al-Mekhlafi, Hadi’s foreign minister, also denied reports that the US military had been allowed to carry out ground operations in Yemen.

The statement by Mekhlafi, according to the Associated Press, followed a report in The New York Times that Saudi-backed Yemeni officials had revoked permissions for the Pentagon to continue special operations in the country.

The Times report said that the permission was withdrawn after dozens of Yemeni civilian were killed during a US commando raid on January 29 that was authorized by President Donald Trump.

Mekhalafi told the AP that “Yemen continues to cooperate with the United States and continues to abide by all the agreements.” He added, however, that the ousted Yemeni government “is involved in talks with the US administration on the latest raid.”

A view of a snack food factory after a Saudi airstrike hit it in Sana’a, Yemen, August 9, 2016. (Photos by Reuters)

Gruesome photographs of children killed in the crossfire of an hour-long firefight during the US raid stirred outrage in Yemen.

The raid, in which just about everything went wrong, was the first known American-led ground mission in Yemen since December 2014, and Trump’s first approval of such an operation.

His approval of the mission came over a dinner four nights earlier with his top national security aides, rather than a rigorous review by the White House.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday the mission was aimed at gathering intelligence and was "highly successful."

US officials maintain that their commandos killed 14 members of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the civilian deaths occurred when US aircraft were called for help.

However, medics at the scene said about 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.

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.

Saudi Arabia launched a war against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to bring back the former government to power and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The war has killed thousands of civilians, and unleashed a humanitarian crisis in the improvised Middle Eastern country.

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