By Poojita Paidipalli
The White House approved a commando raid against a suspected al-Qaeda base in Yemen that left one Navy SEAL, 13 civilians, and 14 militants dead on Jan. 29.
The raid was the first military operation authorized by President Donald Trump as the new commander in chief, CNN reported.
The Pentagon announced the death of U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens and 14 militants as a result of the al Bayda province raid, according to The Guardian.
The raid was a counterterrorism operation to gather intelligence on suspected attacks by al-Qaeda. The goal of the operation was to collect enough information to facilitate future attacks against al-Qaeda and prevent terrorist attacks, CNN reported.
However, the U.S. military told Reuters that the operation was approved without sufficient preparation, ground support or proper backup, The Guardian reported.
This resulted in SEAL Team Six confronting a heavily fortified al-Qaeda compound defended by landmines, snipers and heavy gunfire from armed Islamist extremists, according to The Telegraph.
After the initial announcement that there had been no civilian casualties, U.S. Central Command confirmed that women and children were killed during the raid, according to The Guardian.
Through a communications intercept, SEAL Team Six knew the mission had been compromised, but continued to pursue the target approximately five miles from the area they had flown in, according to The New York Times.
“They kind of knew they were screwed from the beginning,” one former SEAL Team Six official said, according to The New York Times.
Briefings suggest that from the start of the mission, the Yemen villagers were alerted regarding the imminent threat of a raid because drones were flying lower than usual, according to The Guardian.
Once the element of surprise was lost, a firefight developed and caused Owens to suffer a fatal wound. The battle involved small arms, hand grenades and air support from the U.S., according to CNN.
The special forces were taken by surprise when women started reaching for weapons and shooting back, The New York Times reported.
When the Americans called for backup, an MV-22 Osprey aircraft experienced a hard landing and injured three more onboard personnel. The $75 million aircraft was irrevocably damaged and had to be destroyed by an airstrike, according to The New York Times.
“The raid resulted in the seizure of materials and information that is yielding valuable intelligence to help partner nations deter and prevent future terror attacks in Yemen and across the world,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement, CNN reported.
Trump released a statement classifying the raid as a success and expressed his sympathy for the fallen SEAL. He wished those injured in the attack a full recovery, according to CNN.
The president called Owens’s family on Jan. 31 to offer his condolences and flew to Dover Air Force Base to be with the family when his body was brought home, CNN reported.