Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2017-02-03 01:07:41
US Defends Yemen Raid as Death Toll Rises
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(February 2, 2017) — The weekend raid by SEAL Team 6 against the home of a suspected al-Qaeda collaborator in Yemen is facing mounting criticism both domestically and internationally, as even the Pentagon concedes that there were civilians deaths in the attack, which ended up destroying nearly an entire village.
The White House, however, shrugged off questions, insisting that the raid was a “success by all standards.” White House spokesman Sean Spicer claimed the toll was low compared to the hypothetical toll “throughout America and institutions and in terms of the world” if they hadn’t launched the attack.
This direct, albeit puzzling, defense of the operation is something the Pentagon no longer appears willing to do, with officials increasingly reluctant to discuss the operation at all, referring to previous statements now long-since obsolete because of previous comments by other officials, who conceded that the raid was approved “without sufficient intelligence,” and that seemingly everything that could have gone wrong did.
The same raid had reportedly been proposed to the Obama Administration and they deferred to Trump. The Pentagon was keen to do the raid on a moonless night to have the element of surprise, but the large US drone presence over the village tipped off the raid long before ground troops arrived and gave locals a chance to organize substantial resistance.
On Sunday, the Pentagon had claimed 14 “al-Qaeda combatants” killed and no civilians in the fight, though later officials reported anonymously that they believed at least 15 women and children were also killed.
Local offiicals have put the overall death toll around 57, and among the children slain was an eight-year-old American girl, the daughter of US-born cleric Anwar Awlaki.
Indeed, despite initially presenting the attack as targeting “al-Qaeda headquarters,” officials have since admitted it was the house of a long “suspected collaborator,” apparently one of Awlaki’s in-laws.
When presented with more resistance than they expected, the SEALs called in airstrikes and helicopter gunships, which quickly spread the fight around the entire village, destroying a number of buildings and killing a lot of bystanders.
Officials had also initially sought to hype the intelligence gathered from the village’s ruins, which has since been defined down to a laptop and a few thumb drives.
Though some in the administration appear hopeful this will still vindicate the attack, given the nature of the target the early predictions of a bin Laden-level trove of intelligence appears wishful thinking.
US Raid Destroyed Most of Yemen Village,
FM Blasts ‘Extrajudicial Killing’
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(February 1, 2017) — The weekend raid by SEAL Team 6 forces into Yemen to target what was described as “al-Qaeda headquarters,” was championed by the administration as a great success in the initial wake of it, but subsequent accounts have instead shown a complete disaster, with losses among the attack US forces and substantial harm to civilians, virtually destroying the entire village and leading Yemen’s Foreign Minister to fault the attack as “extrajudicial killings.”
The attack on the village of Yakla didn’t target a “headquarters,” but rather the home of a person the US believed was an al-Qaeda “collaborator.” This would explain why the named casualties from reports were all from the same family, the in-laws of US-born cleric Anwar Awlaki, whose 8-year-old daughter was slain in the raid.
The raid was scheduled for a night with no moon to make the multi-mile ground raid into the village a total surprise. Locals knew long before the troops got there, however, saying there were more US surveillance drones than usual and they were flying lower than would be normal long before the attack. The SEALs knew their mission was compromised but went in anyway.
Without the element of surprise, locals had set up a substantial defense, taking up positions around the village. As troops attacked and called in airstrikes, women started picking up weapons and opening fire on the SEALs as well, leading to more airstrikes.
This turned a “secret” raid on one guy’s house into the obliteration of almost the whole village, and despite Pentagon claims of “14 al-Qaeda fighters killed,” local estimates put the overall death toll around 57, with a lot of women and children shot to death as the fighting went from bad to worse.
Though the administration is holding out hope that data seized during the raid will somehow vindicate the operation, the fact that the targeted “headquarters” was actually just a personal residence of a collaborator with an al-Qaeda affiliate makes hopes of a bin Laden-level of intelligence unlikely in the extreme.
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