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U.S. service member killed in Yemen raid against al-Qaida

By Allen Cone
Yemeni people and soldiers stand at the site of suicide bombing December 18, 2016, near a military base in the southern province of Aden, Yemen.The U.S. military said Sunday that one service member was killed and three others wounded in a raid in Yemen targeting its local al-Qaida branch. Photo by EPA.
Yemeni people and soldiers stand at the site of suicide bombing December 18, 2016, near a military base in the southern province of Aden, Yemen.The U.S. military said Sunday that one service member was killed and three others wounded in a raid in Yemen targeting its local al-Qaida branch. Photo by EPA.

Jan. 29 (UPI) -- One U.S. service member died and three others were wounded after a raid in Yemen against al-Qaida, the U.S. Central Command said Sunday.

It was the first combat death since Donald Trump became president on Jan. 20. The president authorized the operation, a defense official said.

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Three senior al-Qaida leaders and 14 militants in all were among those killed, according to a U.S. official. Also, one U.S. service member was injured during a hard landing of V-22 Ospre during the operation. The aircraft was destroyed in place because it couldn't be flown again, defense officials said.

The raid was not directed at "site exploitation," which is a military term to describe intelligence-gathering actions.

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The raid occurred in the Gaifa region in Yemen's northern Baitha province, Yemeni officials told CNN.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our elite service members," Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel said. "The sacrifices are very profound in our fight against terrorists who threaten innocent peoples across the globe."

U.S. military officials said that intelligence collected at the site of the operation "will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots," according to a Pentagon statement.

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"This is one in a series of aggressive moves against terrorist planners in Yemen and worldwide," the Pentagon statement said. "Similar operations have produced intelligence on al-Qaida logistics, recruiting and financing efforts."

At odds are Houthi rebels, a minority Shia group from the north of the country, and the internationally recognized government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Under a Trump executive order, citizens of Yemen are banned from entering the United States for 90 days

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