Washington- The White House said Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump might be supporting a probe into the U.S. January operation in Yemen.
The offensive resulted in the death of a number of militants affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and claimed the life of a U.S. Navy SEAL along with civilians.
Asked on ABC’s “This Week” about the SEAL’s father calling for an investigation, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she had not spoken directly with Trump about it “but I would imagine that he would be supportive of that.”
Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, 36, was killed in the raid on a branch of Qaeda, also known as AQAP, in al-Bayda province on Jan. 29, the first operation authorized by Trump as commander in chief.
The Miami Herald reported on Sunday that Owens’s father, Bill, wanted an investigation into the raid.
The Pentagon said the operation in Yemen killed 14 militants but also acknowledged that civilians were likely killed. Medics at the scene said about 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.
Launched January 29, six days into Trump’s presidency, the raid quickly ran into trouble.
The Navy SEALs received fire from all sides as they attacked the objective; al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula camp.
Air cover was called in and a V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft crash-landed during the fight and had to be destroyed on the ground.
Three other SEALs were wounded and three more U.S. troops were injured in the V-22 crash.
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said Friday, speaking out for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald.
Owens’ father, Bill, had learned only a short time before the ceremony that Trump was coming.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the President.”
“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’
In a statement from the White House Saturday, spokesman Michael C. Short called Ryan Owens “an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.”
The White House did not address his father’s criticisms, but pointed out that the Department of Defense routinely conducts a review of missions that result in loss of life.