- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

SANAA, Yemen (AP) - Yemeni security and tribal officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike killed two al-Qaida militants on Monday, a day after a U.S. raid killed three senior leaders of the group.

They say a missile strike in the central Shabwa province hit a car used by militants coming from Bayda province, where the U.S. raid took place. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters.

Around 30 other Yemenis are believed to have died in the U.S. raid, including women and children. A U.S. soldier was killed and three others were wounded in the gunbattle, while another three U.S. soldiers were wounded in the “hard landing” of an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at a staging area in Yemen.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that U.S. officials are assessing possible civilian casualties, including women and children, but emphasized a U.S. belief that there were “a lot of female combatants” at what he described as preset positions, indicating that they were legitimate targets in the firefight that ensued.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said an unspecified number of the estimated 14 fighters killed in the raid were female combatants, and said reports of female civilian deaths should be taken “with a grain of salt.”

The U.S. has been waging an air war against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula for well over a decade but has rarely engaged in ground combat in Yemen. The soldier killed in the raid was the first known U.S. combat death since President Donald Trump took office.

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AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

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