The US Central Command confirmed seven militants associated with al-Qaeda, the terrorist group, were killed by US Navy SEALs during a raid on a compound in Yemen that was being used “as a headquarters” according to a Pentagon spokesperson.
As reported by CNN, US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis stated the compound targeted during the raid was being used by al-Qaeda “as a headquarters, a place to meet and plan for external operations.”
The operation occurred deep in enemy territory, with Davis confirming it was the “deepest we’ve ever gone into Yemen to fight AQAP” and speculating that fact meant the al Qaeda fighters were “likely not expecting us.”
An AC-130 gunship was still called to provide air support during the action and may have led to more al Qaeda fighters being killed during the raid. Davis did state there is “no credible indications of civilian casualties.”
Two members of the US Armed Forces were wounded during the raid, though were successfully evacuated from the scene.
The intent of the action was to “disrupt” operations in the facility, a known safe haven.
According to the US Central Command, the Yemeni government was supportive of the action.
In a press release, CENTCOM stated, “Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP’s disposition, capabilities, and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP.”
The raid on Tuesday is the first ground mission being openly acknowledged by the US government since one that took place earlier in the year that resulted in the death of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens along with reportedly multiple civilians.
Ground operations in Yemen have increased over the past few months based on growing concerns that al Qaeda is planning attacks on Western targets from within the nation. However, previous efforts had been considered covert attempts to gather intelligence.
Pentagon officials have not commented on why this raid was made public, though several defense officials confirmed the White House is putting pressure on the Pentagon to demonstrate progress in the fight against terrorism.
Since late February, over 80 airstrikes have been conducted on al-Qaeda targets in Yemen.