Pindostan defends Yemen raid that left SEAL, civilians dead
AFP, Feb 2 2017
FASCHINGSTEIN – The White House on Thursday defended a Pindo SOF raid in Yemen as a “success by all standards” even though multiple civilians and a Navy SEAL were killed, and the mission was beset with problems. Sunday’s raid, the first authorized by Pres Trump, saw Pindo SOF enter the Yakla region of Baida province and target a compound occupied by AQAP operatives. Navy SEAL W Owens was killed and three other Pindo troops were wounded in a fierce gunfight. Three more servicemembers were injured when their tilt-rotor aircraft made a “hard landing.” The $75m MV-22 Osprey had to be destroyed in place to avoid having it fall into enemy hands. And on Wednesday, the Pentagon acknowledged that several non-combatants, including children, had apparently been killed in the raid. A Yemeni provincial official had previously said 16 civilians were killed, eight women and eight children, but the Pentagon did not provide numbers. Faschingstein is also facing questions on whether an eight-year-old Pindo girl died. Local sources say the girl was the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaqi. After previously saying the raid snagged an “unbelievable” amount of intelligence, Sean Spicer said Thursday the raid had been successful. He said:
When you think of the loss of life throughout Pindostan and institutions and in terms of the world, in terms of what some of the individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards.
But he added it was hard to talk of success when a Pindostani was killed, and praised the sailor’s sacrifice. He made no mention of the civilian victims. Spicer said the plan had been under consideration since Nov 7, and officials under the Obama administration reviewed and approved it Jan 6, but did not proceed because they were waiting for a moonless night, the next one wouldn’t be until after Obama had left office. But Colin Kahl, a former senior Obama administration security official, said on Twitter that “team Trump didn’t do a careful vetting of the overall proposal or raid” and that Obama had taken no decision, believing the raid represented an escalation of Pindo involvement in Yemen. The operation was said to have targeted the houses of three tribal chiefs linked to AQAP and a Yemeni official said Apache gunships also hit a school, a mosque and a medical facility all used by AQAP fighters. The NYT reported Thursday that AQAP fighters may have known an attack was coming, possibly by increased drone activity in the skies. Pentagon spox said the militants had engaged Pindo forces in a firefight and, to the commandos’ surprise, several women picked up weapons and started firing too. He said:
It was a situation that resulted in our forces… to call in aerial gunfire support.