Family of slain terrror leader, Anwar Al-Awlaki, said that his 8-year old daughter was killed in raid
First on CNN: UAE special forces joined US Navy SEALs in the assault on the al Qaeda compound
Nawar Anwar Al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old daughter of former al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a joint American-UAE raid against the terror group Sunday, according to the girl’s family.
Anwar Al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who directed attacks against the US, was killed in a targeted drone strike in 2011.
Multiple US officials told CNN that an assessment of civilian casualties is still ongoing and that there was no hard intelligence yet to suggest that al-Awlaki’s daughter was killed.
The raid also resulted in the death of US Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens who was fatally wounded in a firefight that saw three other US service members wounded and 14 al Qaeda fighters killed.
Initial reports conducted by the elite special operations force that carried out the mission found no evidence of civilian casualties, but a US official told CNN that subsequent intelligence led the military to believe that there was a high likelihood that some civilians were killed.
The official added that during the gun battle, al Qaeda fighters took up firing positions on the roof of a nearby building and that the US troops came under fire, calling in an airstrike against the building which likely led to the civilian casualties.
The raid encountered more problems when an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft was forced to undergo a “hard landing” which resulted in three additional service members being injured. The military opted to destroy the aircraft in an airstrike to prevent it falling into enemy hands.
It was the first counterterrorism operation approved by President Donald Trump though US officials note that given the complexity of the raid, planning for the mission began during the administration of Barack Obama.
US troops are rarely put on the ground in Yemen indicating that the intelligence objective was considered highly desirable. A US official told CNN that an al Qaeda leader was also killed in the battle.
Officials from multiple countries tell CNN that special forces from the UAE took part in the raid on the al Qaeda compound, which the military said was geared towards collecting as much intelligence on the terror group as possible in order to facilitate future raids and strikes against the organization.
Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate is thought to be among the terror group’s most capable franchises, having helped direct the 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices in Paris.
UAE troops successfully drove al Qaeda from the Yemeni port city of Mukalla, an act that officials said has made striking the terror group easier as it is now based in more rural areas free of civilians.
The US military conducted a series of drone strikes against the organization on the first days of Trump’s presidency.
CNN’s Elwyn Lopez and Michael Callahan contributed to this report.