A US military service member was killed Sunday during a raid against al-Qaeda militants in central Yemen that also left nearly 30 others dead, including women and children. The loss of the service member is the first-known combat death of a member of the US military under President Trump. The US has been striking al-Qaeda in Yemen from the air for more than 15 years, mostly using drones, but has rarely put boots on the ground, and Sunday's surprise pre-dawn raid could signal a new escalation against extremist groups in the Arab world's poorest but strategically located country. Among the children killed was Nora, the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Yemeni-American cleric killed in a US airstrike in Yemen in 2011, according to the girl's grandfather. Nasser al-Awlaki told the AP that Nora was visiting her mother when the raid took place. She was shot in the neck and bled for two hours before she died, he said.
US Central Command said three service members were wounded in the raid and that a fourth was injured in a "hard landing" nearby. The aircraft was unable to fly and was "intentionally destroyed," it added. It said 14 militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were killed and that US service members captured "information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots." A US defense official said the raid was approved by Trump. President Obama had been briefed on it before he left office, but for operational reasons it was not ready to be executed before he departed. Yemeni security and tribal officials said the raid killed three senior al-Qaeda leaders: Abdul-Raouf al-Dhahab, Sultan al-Dhahab, and Seif al-Nims. Tribal officials said the Americans departed with at least two unidentified individuals, but the US official in Washington said no detainees were taken. (Read more Yemen stories.)