US commandos in 'close-quarters raid' on Yemen al-Qaeda leader

US commandos in 'close-quarters raid' on Yemen al-Qaeda leader
Yemeni eye-witnesses have reported that US ground forces launched an attack against a senior al-Qaeda leader's home in Yemen on Thursday but the Pentagon has denied the raid took place.
2 min read
03 March, 2017
The previous SEALs' mission in Yemen ended with the reported deaths of 14 children [Getty]

US special forces reportedly launched a secret ground mission against a senior al-Qaeda leader in Yemen (AQAP) last night - a claim the Pentagon has denied.

US troops engaged in a 30-minute gun battle with al-Qaeda fighters in al-Shabwa province in an attempt to storm the home of AQAP leader, Saad bin Atef.

A Pentagon spokesman denied local Yemeni reports of a ground offensive by US troops but confirmed that there were US forces deployed on the ground.

"We have US Special Operations forces that go in and out of Yemen to assist our partner forces in fighting al-Qaeda," said Captain Jeff Davis, who refused to comment on any overnight activities.

There has been no news or confirmation that any al-Qaeda leader was killed overnight.

The news comes amid reports the Trump administration is considering increasing ground raid missions in Yemen.

White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the change was "a philosophy more than a change in policy."

The unconfirmed reports of an unsuccessful ground forces operation follow one month after a botched US commando raid in Yemen which reportedly killed nine children and a day after at least 20 US airstrikes were carried out in Yemen.

The mission's failure was a source of embarrassment for the Pentagon and an immediate propaganda boost for al-Qaeda.

"The White House's new fool has received a painful blow at your hands in his first outing on your land," Yemeni al-Qaeda leader Qasim al-Rimi said.