United States gathered valuable intelligence from Yemen raid

US forces conducted a series of precision strikes in Yemen against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist organization early this morning, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said.

On Thursday, CNN, citing US officials, said the U.S.is seeking to find and monitor various individuals based on intelligence from computer discs and other material brought back from the raid, which critics have charged was planned in haste and poorly coordinated.

The officials told The Associated Press that USA jets and drones targeted at least six districts and they were all located in a mountainous area where the three provinces of Bayda, Shabwa and Abyan meet.

"U.S. forces conducted a series of precision strikes in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in the early morning of March 2 (Yemen time)", Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement Thursday.

They said they heard loud explosions early this morning in Al-Maraqisha, a rugged mountainous area where Al-Qaeda militants took refuge a year ago after they were driven out of Yemeni cities they had captured earlier.

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The raid cost the life of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens. The raid was personally authorized by President Donald Trump and resulted in the first combat casualty of his tenure.

The group boasts one of the world's most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, and AQAP has been a persistent concern to the USA government ever since a 2009 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. Local reports in Yemen have said as many as 25 civilians may have been killed during the raid.

In his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, Trump assured Ryan Owens' widow Carryn - who was seated in the gallery next to Trump's daughter Ivanka - that her husband's death was not in vain and that the raid yielded intelligence that will make the nation safer.

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

A week ago, Human Rights Watch called upon the U.S.to carry out an investigation saying that the USA needs to "go a step further and provide a full accounting of possible laws-of-war violations". In 2015, the group's leader was killed in a drone strike in the southern city of Mukalla, the provincial capital of Yemen's largest province of Hadramawt, and which fell into the hands of the group for a year.

  • Megan Austin