Military: First-known combat death since Trump in office
A United States military service member was killed yesterday during a raid against al-Qaida militants in central Yemen that also left nearly 30 others dead, including women and children. The loss of the service member is the first-known combat death of a member of the US military under President Donald Trump.
"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," Trump said in a statement.
The US has been striking al-Qaida in Yemen from the air for more than 15 years, mostly using drones, and yesterday's surprise pre-dawn raid could signal a new escalation against extremist groups in the Arab world's poorest, but strategically located country.
An al-Qaida official and an online news service linked to the terror group said the raid left about 30 people dead. Among the children killed was Anwaar, the eight-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Yemeni-American cleric killed in a US airstrike in Yemen in 2011, according to the girl's grandfather.
Nasser al-Awlaki told The Associated Press that Anwaar was visiting her mother when the raid took place. She was shot in the neck and bled for two hours before she died, he said.
US Central Command said in a statement that three service members were wounded in the raid and that a fourth one was injured in a "hard landing" in a nearby location. The aircraft was unable to fly afterward and was intentionally destroyed, it added.
It said 14 militants from al-Qaida's branch in Yemen, formally known as "al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula," were killed in the assault and that US service members taking part in the raid captured "information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots".