Air strikes said to target al Qaeda in Yemen

Air strikes said to target al Qaeda in Yemen

US forces carried out more than 20 airstrikes against al-Qaida in Yemen on Thursday, killing at least seven militants in the largest operation since a ground raid a month ago that left a Navy SEAL and more than two dozen Yemenis dead.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the strikes were conducted in partnership with the Yemeni government.

Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, or AQAP, has seeped into Yemen's ungoverned spaces where they plot, direct and inspire attacks against USA and allied targets, Davis said.

The U.S. official familiar with the intelligence gathered from the raid told ABC News that information obtained in the January 28 raid included contacts on hundreds of AQAP sympathizers in the Middle East and in the West.

On January 29, President Donald Trump's administration ordered its first military raid against the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terror group in Yemen, which is banned in Russian Federation. The growing strength of AQAP has come about despite years of USA drone strikes and occasional raids by special operations commandos.

Local news media in Yemen reported that at least three people suspected of being al-Qaida members were killed in the country's southeastern province of Shabwa.

But there have been recent reports questioning whether any useful intelligence was gathered from the raid.

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The raid has become a hot-button political issue after Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Ryan Owens was killed in the midst of the operation.

"We have not announced all strikes in Yemen", the official said.

AQAP is considered by many analysts to be al Qaeda's most capable affiliate, and the organization has been able to carve out a safe haven in Yemen amid the ongoing civil war there between government loyalists and Houthi rebels.

In his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, President Trump affirmed that the mission had successfully obtained "vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy".

The father of Owens told the Miami Herald he spurned Trump when the coffin arrived at Dover Air Force base, and that he demanded "an investigation" into his son's death.

The United States launched dozens of drone strikes throughout Barack Obama's presidency to combat al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, regarded as one of the Islamist group's most risky branches.