A senior defense official says U.S. special operations forces and Yemeni counterterrorism troops rescued eight hostages held by an Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.

The raid on Tuesday was carried out jointly by the U.S. and Yemeni forces in a mission not publicly announced by Washington. The U.S. role was first reported by The New York Times, which said about two dozen U.S. commandos were involved.

The U.S. defense official who confirmed the U.S. role spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the secret mission by name.

No Americans were among the eight people rescued, the official said.

The Yemeni government said Tuesday that its soldiers killed seven suspected militants from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in the rescue mission.