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U.S. Service Member Killed, 3 Wounded In Yemen Raid

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File photo of MV-22 Osprey. File photo of MV-22 Osprey.

The U.S. military said Sunday that one service member was killed and three others wounded in a raid in Yemen targeting its local al Qaeda branch, marking the first-known combat death of a U.S. soldier under President Donald Trump’s new administration.

A U.S. military officer told CBS News the raid was approved by Mr. Trump.   

U.S. Central Command said in a statement that a fourth service member was injured in a “hard landing” in a nearby location. The aircraft - an MV-22 Osprey, CBS News correspondent David Martin confirms - was unable to fly afterward and was “intentionally destroyed.”

Trump issued the following statement on the raid:

In a successful raid against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquarters, brave U.S. forces were instrumental in killing an estimated 14 AQAP members and capturing important intelligence that will assist the U.S. in preventing terrorism against its citizens and people around the world.

Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world. My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member. I also pray for a quick and complete recovery for the brave service members who sustained injuries.

The Central Command statement said 14 militants from al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, formally known as “al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” were killed in the assault and that U.S. service members taking part in the raid captured “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”

Yemeni security and tribal officials said the assault in Yemen’s central Bayda province killed three senior al Qaeda leaders.

The surprise dawn attack in Bayda province killed Abdul-Raouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab, and Seif al-Nims, the officials said.

The al-Dhahab family is considered an ally of al-Qaida, which is now chiefly concentrated in Bayda province. A third family member, Tarek al-Dhahab, was killed in a previous U.S. drone strike several years ago. It was not immediately clear whether the family members were actual members of al Qaeda.

The U.S. troops killed or wounded some two dozen men, including some Saudis present at the site, according to the Yemeni officials - who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.

An official with al Qaeda confirmed the killings, describing the attack as a “massacre” and saying that women and children had been killed as well although he provided no evidence to back his claim. He said Apache attack helicopters struck the area from the air before dropping commandos in for the raid, which took place near Yakla village in Radaa district. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Just over a week ago, suspected U.S. drone strikes killed three other alleged al-Qaida operatives in Bayda province in what was the first-such killings reported in the country since Mr. Trump assumed the U.S. presidency.

The tribal officials said the Americans were looking for al-Qaida leader Qassim al-Rimi, adding that they captured and departed with at least two unidentified individuals.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, long seen by Washington as among the most dangerous branches of the global terror network, has exploited the chaos of Yemen’s civil war, seizing territory in the south and east.

The war began in 2014, when Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies swept down from the north and captured the capital, Sanaa. A Saudi-led military coalition has been helping government forces battle the rebels for nearly two years.

Separately, Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi a day earlier called for the remnants of his parliament, many of whom are in exile in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere, to convene in the country’s southern city of Aden, where he is struggling to establish government control.

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