Published: Fri, March 03, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

US Airstrikes in Yemen Hit Area Where Navy SEAL Was Killed

"More than 20 strikes targeted AQAP militants, equipment and infrastructure in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Baida and Shabwa", Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement.

The strikes appear to be the first USA operation to target the terror group since the January 29 raid that left Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens dead, along with several other service members wounded.

The pre-dawn attack shook houses and awoke sleeping residents, many of whom fled in fear, as smoke billowed into the sky and explosions lit up the horizon, according to local tribal leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns. That is, the USA military is not just focused on the Islamic State anymore and has not stopped despite the ill-fated raid Donald Trump approved just days into his presidency. It said USA naval vessels launched a wave of random shelling to provide cover for the forces to pull out. The growing strength of AQAP has come about despite years of USA drone strikes and occasional raids by special operations commandos.

The Obama administration regularly used drones to attack Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Launched just six days into Donald Trump's presidency, it was his first major counter-terrorism operation and was widely criticised even by some fellow Republicans.

Though Trump provided no specifics, a senior USA official said earlier that the intelligence included the group's explosives manufacturing, targeting, training and recruitment practices.

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The strikes were conducted in partnership with the Yemeni government, Davis said.

U.S. drones also launched six strikes on Al Qaeda strongholds in Al Sowmaa district of Bayda, the province where USA navy Seals carried out a raid in January.

However, the SEAL's father, William Owens, has demanded a broader investigation into what he told the Miami Herald was a "stupid" mission.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen affiliate is known, has always been seen as the global network's most risky branch, and has been implicated in a number of attempted attacks on the United States homeland.

However, the group grew in weapons and numbers after the start of the 2015 Saudi-led campaign that targeted Houthi rebels who had seized control of the capital Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee the country.

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