The White House has said that a raid on Al-Qaeda stronghold in Yemen, that killed civilians, was a ‘very thought-out process.’
The raid was undertaken by U.S. special operations forces, which targeted the house of a suspected Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader.
According to the rights group, Reprieve, as many as 23 civilians, including ten children, were killed in a raid on a village in Yakla district on January 29.
The statement from AQAP said that its fighters downed a U.S. Apache helicopter, and 16 missiles were fired at three houses. It confirmed the death of one of its leaders, Abdul Rauf al-Dhahab and claimed 30 “villagers” were also killed, including women and children whom it didn’t identify.
Medics at the scene told Reuters News Agency that 30 people were killed including ten children and women, while a Yemeni official told the New York Times that at least eight women and seven children were among those who died during the raid.
The Yemeni reports say that the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant killed by U.S. drone in 2011, was also among the victims.
This was the first raid or any operation of that sort authorized by President Trump.
The U.S. military confirmed earlier that a Navy SEAL, William ‘Ryan’ Owens died, and three other were injured, but the U.S. Central Command (Centcom) added later that those killed in the raid could include children.
According to the U.S. military, several Apache helicopters participated in the operation, which killed 14 militants, including three Al-Qaeda leaders.
White House Spokesman, Sean Spicer made no mention of the civilian casualties while talking to the reporters:
“It’s hard to ever call something a complete success when you have a loss of life or people injured. But I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life… I think it’s a successful operation in all standards.”
Reprieve said early Thursday that a newborn baby was among the ten children killed. It cited various local reports that a heavily pregnant woman was shot in the stomach, and gave birth to a wounded baby boy, who died later.
Images of dead children also surfaced on social media after the attack.
Pentagon Spokesman, Capt. Jeff David told reporters earlier in the week that the reports of “female casualties should be taken with a grain of salt,” since they are “trained to be combatants.” But the U.S. Central Command acknowledged a number of civilians had “likely been killed in the midst of the firefight.”
Mr. Trump visited the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday to receive the remains of Navy SEAL, who was killed in the raid.
Yemen is caught up in a civil war, and Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of it to make strongholds in the south and southeast of the country.
Yemen has been embroiled for the past two years in fighting between forces loyal to the internationally recognized President, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Shia Houthi rebels.