Yemen keeps counter-terrorism operations with U.S. despite raid
|A woman walks past a graffiti denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen. -Reuters|
DUBAI -- Yemen said on Wednesday it had not suspended counter-terrorism operations with the U.S. government, despite controversy over a U.S. commando raid on al Qaeda militants in which several civilians were also killed.
The raid in al-Bayda province, approved by new President Trump, resulted in a gun battle that left one Navy SEAL dead and an American aircraft a charred wreck. Local medics said several women and children were killed.
Yemeni officials told Reuters that Sanaa had not withdrawn its permission for the U.S. to carry out special operations ground missions but had made clear their "reservations" about the last operation.
A statement by the Yemeni embassy in Washington said the government "stresses that it has not suspended any programs with regards to counterterrorism operations in Yemen with the United States Government".
The Yemeni government "reiterates its firm position that any counterterrorism operations carried out in Yemen should continue to be in consultation with Yemeni authorities and have precautionary measures to prevent civilian casualties."
Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi has met with the U.S. ambassador to Yemen and "made clear his reservations about the problems with the last operation," a senior Yemeni official told Reuters.
U.S. defense officials said they were investigating the reports of civilian casualties in the raid. U.S. Senator John McCain criticized the operation, telling NBC news on Tuesday:
"When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost … I don't believe you can call it a success."
But White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended the operation on Wednesday, calling it "absolutely a success."
"I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid, owes an apology and disservice to the life of Chief Owens," Spicer said, referring to the Navy SEAL who died.
The Yemeni government has supported a U.S. campaign against the country's powerful al Qaeda branch for more than a decade.