Feb. 8 (UPI) — Yemen withdrew permission for U.S. special operations missions after civilians were killed in a military operation, U.S. officials said.
A Jan. 29 raid on an al-Qaida base in Yemen resulted in a 50-minute firefight in which up to 30 Yemenis, including children, killed in the crossfire, along with one U.S. Navy SEAL. The Pentagon acknowledged that several civilians died in the attack on a vilage in central Yemen, though it is unsure how many.
The resulting outrage in Yemen prompted a suspension of the U.S. counter-terrorism program. Although neither Yemen nor the United States officially announced the withdrawal of approval, it was reported by The New York Times Tuesday, citing U.S. military officials. One military official said that “almost everything went wrong” in the raid.
Several Yemeni officials said they were not consulted on the operation.
The Obama administration initially planned the operation, but declined to execute it because military officials wanted a moonless night, which wouldn’t happen again until after President Donald Trump‘s inauguration. The Trump administration reviewed and approved it within his first weeks in office.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly referred to the mission as a success.Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi condemned it as “extrajudicial killings.”
The withdrawal of Yemeni approval for ground attacks does not affect U.S. operations of unmanned drone missions, or U.S. military personnel stationed in Yemen dealing with Yemeni anti-terrorism initiatives.