WASHINGTON, District of Columbia- President Donald Trump says the first American soldier has died in combat operations under his watch. Three others were reportedly wounded in a raid against al Qaeda targets in Yemen. Defense sources are saying a hard landing of a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft injured the third service member nearby. Unconfirmed reports say the deceased soldier was a member of the Navy’s elite SEAL unit. An identification has not been made.
“In a successful raid against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquarters, brave U.S. forces were instrumental in killing an estimated 14 AQAP members and capturing important intelligence that will assist the U.S. in preventing terrorism against its citizens and people around the world,” the president’s statement reads.
“Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind, are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world. My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member. I also pray for a quick and complete recovery for the brave service members who sustained injuries.”
The operation was authorized by the president. In June 2016, it was reported that the U.S. military planned to keep a small force of Special Operations advisers in Yemen, who were deployed in April for a limited, short-term operation. A Post report says a team consisting of about a dozen men would assist troops from the United Arab Emirates, who, along with other Arab forces, are seeking to track down militants from AQAP. The Pentagon recently dispatched another Special Operations team to Yemen on a separate mission to assess security and size up local figures who might cooperate with the United States in the future, a former U.S. ambassador in Yemen said that a new commitment of U.S. forces in Yemen would better enable reconnaissance flights and airstrikes against al-Qaeda according to the Washington Post in a June 17th article.