US special forces operatives carried out a raid in central Yemen on Sunday, targeting the house of a suspected leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
US officials have confirmed that one Navy commando died and three more service members were wounded, and say 14 al-Qaeda fighters were killed. Unconfirmed reports suggested a number of civilians were killed, including an eight-year-old girl whose father and brother were killed in drone strikes six years ago.
Here’s what we know and what’s been reported.
The US operatives targeted the house of a suspected senior AQAP leader in the mountainous Yakla region of Bayda province – the focal point of recent US drone strikes in Yemen.
A Pentagon spokesman said the clandestine mission – the first authorised by President Donald Trump – was an intelligence-gathering operation designed to retrieve computer hard drives.
The US commandos were dropped near the target location and engaged in a firefight with suspected AQAP militants. Chief Petty Officer William Owens, a member of the elite US Navy special forces unit Seal Team 6, was killed and one other service member was wounded.
AQAP said in a statement that Abdul Rauf al-Dhahab, one of its leaders, was killed in the fighting. This has not been confirmed by the US.
At first, US officials said only that 14 AQAP fighters were killed and denied that there were civilian casualties. But reports credited to Yemeni officials and medics on the ground said that 16 civilians were killed, including women and children.
Asked on Monday about the reports, Pentagon spokesman Capt Jeff Davis said that some of the AQAP fighters were women.
He said: “Take reports of female casualties with a grain of salt. Not all female casualties are civilian casualties. In many cases, and certainly in this one, females can be legitimate combatants.”
Other reports said that an eight-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, was killed. Her grandfather, who was not at the scene, said in interviews with NBC and Reuters news agency that she was shot dead by US forces. Her uncle also posted to Facebook to say she had died.
Images circulated on social media and by local media outlets purported to show her body.
Nawar is the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a suspected senior al-Qaeda leader killed by a US drone strike in 2011. Her 16-year-old brother, Abdulrahman, was killed by another US drone strike two weeks after the death of their father.
Asked about the boy’s death at the time, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary under Barack Obama, said: “Maybe he should’ve had a more responsible father.”
There has been no official confirmation of Nawar’s death from Yemeni or US officials.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists on Tuesday that he could not give them any more information about the raid.
Capt Davis said the raid had been planned months ago by the Obama administration but that the plans were handed over to the Trump administration, which authorised it as its first combat action.
A US V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed at the site as it attempted to evacuate the US troops, injuring two members of the crew.
The Osprey was too badly damaged to fly and was destroyed by the soldiers, who flew out on another aircraft.