On Sunday, U.S. Central Command reported the first counterterror operation carried out under approval by President Trump. The raid also resulted in the first-known combat death of an American soldier to occur under his administration. One U.S. commando was killed and three more were injured during the raid against senior Al-Qaeda leaders, which was carried out by Navy’s SEAL Team 6 in central Yemen.
The raid — which was planned as a ground operation rather than an airstrike on the country’s Al-Qaeda headquarters — spawned a “fierce firefight,” which lasted an hour and killed over a dozen Al-Qaeda militants, as relayed by CENTCOM to the New York Times:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite servicemembers,” Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel said in a statement. “The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe.”
An estimated 14 Qaeda fighters were killed in the raid, which led to “the capture of information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots,” the statement said.
Three of the deaths included top leaders of Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch. There are also unverified reports of civilian casualties (women and children) from the raid, although a senior U.S. military official has strenuously denied these reports to CNN. The outlet notes the rarity of U.S. military raids in Yemen, although several U.S. drone strikes on Al-Qaeda targets have been carried out in the past week.
On a tangentially-related note, Yemen is one of seven Muslim-majority countries (along with Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Sudan) whose refugees have been affected by Trump’s executive order on immigration, which has led to chaos in U.S. airports. After massive spontaneous protests, a judge has partially suspended the ban and barred the deportation of those refugees already detained at U.S. airports.