Yemeni officials say US makes surprise raid


SANAA, Yemen (AP) — U.S. forces launched a raid in central Yemen on Sunday, security and tribal officials said, landing troops off of aircraft and killing three alleged senior al-Qaida leaders in a battle that was the third such U.S. ground engagement against the extremist group in Yemen.

The surprise dawn attack in Bayda province killed Abdul-Raouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab, and Seif al-Nims, they said. The al-Dhahab family is considered an ally of al-Qaida, which security forces say is concentrated in Bayda province. A third family member, Tarek al-Dhahab, was killed in a previous U.S. drone strike years ago. It was not immediately clear whether the family members were actual members of al-Qaida.

The U.S. troops killed or wounded some two dozen men, including some Saudis present at the site, according to the Yemeni officials — who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists. U.S. military officials contacted by The Associated Press had no immediate comment but said they were looking into the report.

An official with al-Qaida confirmed the killings, describing the attack as a “massacre” and saying that women and children had been killed as well although providing no evidence. He said Apache attack helicopters struck the area from the air before dropping commandos in for the raid, which took place near Yakla village in Radaa district. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Just over a week ago, suspected U.S. drone strikes killed three other alleged al-Qaida operatives in Bayda province in what was the first-such killings reported in the country since Donald Trump assumed the U.S. presidency.

The tribal officials said the Americans were looking for al-Qaida leader Qassim al-Rimi, adding that they captured and departed with at least two unidentified individuals.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, long seen by Washington as among the most dangerous branches of the global terror network, has exploited the chaos of Yemen’s civil war, seizing territory in the south and east.

The war began in 2014, when Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies swept down from the north and captured the capital, Sanaa. A Saudi-led military coalition has been helping government forces battle the rebels for nearly two years.

Separately, Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi a day earlier called for the remnants of his parliament, many of whom are in exile in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere, to convene in the country’s southern city of Aden, where he is struggling to establish government control.

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Associated Press writer Maggie Michael reported from Cairo.

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