DEVELOPING: One U.S. service member was killed and three were wounded in a raid against a group of senior Al Qaeda leaders in central Yemen, officials said.
The U.S. Central Command said in a statement Sunday that another service member was injured in a “hard landing” in a nearby location.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite servicemembers,” Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel said in a statement. “The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe.”
The aircraft used in the landing was unable to fly afterward and “was then intentionally destroyed in place.”
A total of 14 fighters from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were killed in the assault, and U.S. service members captured “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots,” according to the military.
This was the first incident of a U.S. service member being killed in action under President Trump.
Yemeni security and tribal officials said the assault in central Bayda province killed three senior Al Qaeda leaders.
The surprise dawn attack killed Abdul-Raouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab, and Seif al-Nims, Yemeni officials told the Associated Press. The al-Dhahab family is considered an ally of Al Qaeda, 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 Qaeda.
Just over a week ago, suspected U.S. drone strikes killed three other alleged Al Qaeda 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 Qaeda leader Qassim al-Rimi, adding that they captured and departed with at least two unidentified individuals.
Al Qaeda 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.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.