United States Special Operations Forces killed seven al Qaeda-affiliated fighters during a raid in Yemen on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command said.
The operation, which included Navy SEALs and other Special Operations forces, targeted a compound in the governorate of Marib linked to an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, known as the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
“During this operation, U.S. forces killed seven AQAP militants through a combination of small arms fire and precision airstrikes,” the statement said.
Col. John Thomas, a Central Command spokesman, told the New York Times in an interview that the purpose of the raid was not to kill or capture any militants, but instead to collect information such as computers, hard drives and cellphones.
“This operation was conducted with the support of the government of Yemen,” the statement said. “In conjunction with our Arab allies, the U.S. will continue to support their efforts in bringing stability to the region by fighting known terrorist organizations like AQAP.”
The raid in Yemen comes at a time when the Trump Administration increased counterterrorism operations in the country, where the al-Qaeda affiliate plots attacks on the west.
Om January 29, shortly after President Donald Trump took office, U.S. Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens was killed in a Yemen raid. Three others were injured in the mission and several civilians were killed.
The United States has conducted more than 80 airstrikes against AQAP in Yemen since President Trump took office. The al Qaeda franchise in Yemen is considered to pose the most direct threat to the United States, even with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“The group attacked the U.S. Embassy-Sanaa in 2008, attempted to down Northwest Airlines 253 on Christmas Day 2009, and conspired to send explosive-laden parcels to Chicago in 2010,” the statement read. “The group has also used its English-language magazine Inspire to encourage attacks against the West, and has been linked to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, and other lone-wolf attacks in the U.S. and Europe.”