A spokesman for the Trump administration says Sunday's U.S. raid on al-Qaida militants in Yemen is “hard to call” a success, given the loss of more than a dozen lives, including Yemeni civilians and one American service member.
Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday that the raid was a “well thought out effort” that the president authorized by memo on January 26. Spicer said the process of scheduling the raid began on November 7, the day before the U.S. presidential election, while Barack Obama was still president.
“This was a very, very well thought out and executed effort,” Spicer stressed.
Also Thursday, U.S. Central Command said it is investigating the raid and confirmed that civilians, including some children, apparently were killed.
A Pentagon spokesman said the civilians may have been hit by U.S. aircraft fire.
Women among combatants
Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis confirmed Thursday that women were among the combatants during what he called “a very fierce firefight” that required U.S. forces to call in aerial gunfire support. Davis said the militants chose to return fire in an area that put civilians at risk.
Davis also said the military conducted the raid to get intelligence on potential operations by al-Qaida against the United States.
Davis said the original plan was to “go in, conduct a raid, grab things and go.”
The body of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was returned Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base, where President Donald Trump made a previously unannounced visit to pay his respects.
Another three U.S. service members were injured when their aircraft made a so-called “hard landing” at a staging area for the mission.