Donald Trump claims botched Yemen raid was the US ‘winning’ despite 30 civilian casualties

His latest Twitter rant claims that the US Navy Seal who died was part of a successful mission

Rachael Revesz
New York
Thursday 09 February 2017 15:31
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Donald Trump has claimed that the botched Yemen raid that left nine children and a US Navy Seal dead, was an example of the US "winning".

In a Twitter rant, he said the Chief Special Warfare Operator William Ryan Owens was a hero who died during a "winning" raid, and not a “failure”.

President Trump has been criticised for "missing his target" during his first overseas military mission.

On 29 January he gave the green light to descend upon a rural Yemeni village to target Al-Qaeda leader Qasim al Raymi, but the operation ended up killing nine children and a member of the US military.

There were at least 30 casualties in total.

In a series of tweets, the President vented anger against Senator John McCain, a former war prisoner in Vietnam, for claiming that the mission had been a failure.

Mr McCain had told reporters that the loss of lives "made it hard" to describe the operation as a success.

"He's been losing so long he doesn't know how to win anymore, just look at the mess our country is in - bogged down in conflict all over the place. Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission (according to General Mattis), not a "failure".

"Time for the US to get smart and start winning again!"

Five days after entering the White House, Mr Trump signalled that the US Navy SEALS, who had carried out rehearsals of the attack, could go ahead.

The team reportedly descended in darkness on a small cluster of brick houses, which also contained civilians.

Their cover was blown and enemy fire was returned. Contingency plans failed. $70 million of military Osprey aircraft was destroyed.

The US Central Command issued a statement to say the agency had "concluded regrettably that civilian non-combatants were likely killed" including women and children.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism discovered that nine children under the age of 13 were killed, and five more were injured.

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Yet White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted that the mission was a "absolutely a success".

"And I think anyone who would suggest it's not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens," he said.

"He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn't fully appreciate how successful that mission was, what the information that they were able to retrieve was, and how that will help prevent future terrorist attacks."

He did not confirm whether the US government had been requested by Yemen to discontinue ground operations to fight Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"I think we're in touch with Yemeni officials," he said.

Mr Spicer said earlier this week that the aim of the mission had been to gather intelligence rather than kill al-Raymi, who released an audio recording to taunt Mr Trump after the raid.

Mr Trump also claimed that defense secretary General James Mattis had agreed that the mission was "successful".

Last week Mr Trump made an unannounced trip to an air base in Delaware to honour the solider whose remains were being flown home.

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