Pentagon conducts 20 airstrikes in Yemen, first since botched raid

The Pentagon has carried out its first major military operation in Yemen since a botched raid in January that killed women and children as well as an American commando.

US forces conducted more than 20 airstrikes involving a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft early on Thursday, the Pentagon said.

Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the airstrikes targeted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in three south-central provinces of Abyan, Shabwah and al-Bayda.

“The strikes will degrade the AQAP’s ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to use territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen as a safe space for terror plotting,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

The US military did not share a casualty estimate, but local officials said at least nine suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed.

Davis said the operation was coordinated with resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a strong ally of Saudi Arabia that has been engaged in its own military campaign against Yemen.

Troops engage al-Qaeda on the ground

Military helicopters and drones launched a flurry of fresh airstrikes in Shabwah province early on Friday, witnesses said, according to Reuters.

The raids targeted the residence of Sa’ad Atef, an al-Qaeda leader, as well as other suspected militant positions in the area.

The unidentified aircraft, believed to be American, also deployed troops to the al-Saeed area of the southern province, who engaged suspected al-Qaeda militants on the ground for nearly half an hour.

The military operations came more than a month since a January 29 raid, the first of its kind authorized by President Donald Trump, in al-Bayda which residents said left as many as 25 civilians dead.

An ongoing investigation by the US Central Command has also determined that civilians, including possibly children, lost their lives during the botched raid.