More than 15 years after al-Qaida pulled off the bloody 9-11 attacks on the US mainland,a US Navy SEAL was killed in firefight action in Yemen during a pre-dawn raid against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula,an actively anti-Western organisation,over the weekend,and four others were wounded,the Pentagon said,as President Donald Trump ordered his first ground combat operation.AH-64 Apache helicopters and fighter jets provided close air support during the raid,which was aimed at gathering intelligence on future plans by al-Qaida directed against the US,and indeed did so successfully.Foreign troops assisted the US,as UAE commandos participated in the raid.*
About 14 al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula militants were killed in the raid,plus up to several dozen civilian relatives of the Islamist extremists,who had gathered at a headquarters facility in either the Shawba or Bayda governate next door to chew the narcotic plant called "qat,"in accordance with Yemeni tradition.Several civilian homes were possibly destroyed in the pitched battle that raged from nighttime till dawn,beginning with an air assault by the SEALs of Team Six-meaning they arrived by helicopter or possibly tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys.One MV-22 indeed crash-landed at a staging area when it undertook a rescue mission for injured troops,resulting in another injury.The plane was destroyed on the ground by friendly aircraft in order to protect sensitive information. *
Both al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant have been active in Yemen in recent years,taking advantage of the civil war in the country between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Houthi rebel tribesmen in order to expand their influence.*
The SEAL killed has been identified as Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens,36,of Peoria,Illinois.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said of CSWO Owens in a statement of condolence:
Ryan gave his full measure for our nation,and in performing his duty,he upheld the noblest standard of military service.The US would not long exist,were it not for the selfless commitment of such warriors.*
In the course of his career,CSWO Owens had been decorated with:
two Bronze Star Medals;Afghanistan Campaign Medal;Joint Service Commendation Medal;Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal;Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal;and the National Defense Service Medal.*
Planning for the raid had begun under former President Barack Obama;but was authorised by President Donald Trump,an anonymous defence official revealed.It was intended to be a clandestine operation,and would not have been disclosed,were it not for the death of CSWO Owens.