President Donald Trump went on the attack against Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in an early morning tweet on Feb. 9.
On Feb. 7, McCain criticized the Jan. 29 military raid in Yemen that Trump had authorized, reports the Daily Mail.
The raid, which killed Navy SEAL William Owens and left numerous civilians dead, including an 8-year-old American girl, was characterized by McCain as a "failure."
In response, Trump tweeted: "Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media. Only emboldens the enemy! He's been losing so long he doesn't know how to win anymore."
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The President's statement echoes a remark he made in July 2015, when he insisted that McCain is "not a war hero," as reported by The Washington Post. "I like people that weren’t captured," Trump said, referring to McCain having been a P.O.W. during the Vietnam War.
The White House has repeatedly claimed that the Yemen operation was a huge success, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer said McCain should apologize for stating otherwise.
McCain refused, explaining that he "would not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success," to which Spicer responded by again calling the mission "absolutely a success."
U.S. military officials told Reuters, however, that Trump approved the mission without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparation.
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Officials cited by NBC News said "almost everything went wrong." In addition to the death of Owens, several other SEALs were severely injured when their aircraft almost crashed. Thirty Yemini citizens were reportedly killed during the assault, including 10 women and children, The Intercept added.
As a result of the local outrage caused by the civilian deaths, Yemen announced that it will no longer give the U.S. permission to conduct ground missions in the country, reports The New York Times.
Yemen's ambassador to the U.S. said his country's cooperation should not come "at the expense of the Yemeni citizens and the country's sovereignty."