Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi-led Air Strikes Kill 10 Al Qaeda Fighters in Yemen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55349899

Forces loyal to the Saudi-backed Yemeni president flash their arms at a road on the entrance to Abyan province as they take part in an operation to drive Al-Qaeda fighters out of the southern provincial capital, on April 23, 2016. Yemeni forces backed by air power from the Saudi-led Arab coalition launched an operation in Abyan province as they advanced towards Zinjibar and the neighbouring town of Jaar, military sources said. Soldiers reached Al-Kud, five kilometres (three miles) south of Zinjibar where they clashed with Qaeda militants, while coalition Apache helicopters targeted extremist positions in the vicinity, according to the officials. Twelve Al-Qaeda militants and three soldiers died in the fighting, a military official said. Government forces last week expelled militants of the jihadist network’s local branch — Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — from Huta, the provincial capital of Lahj, as part of a widespread operation to secure southern provinces. Coalition-backed forces have driven militants out of Aden, the southern city declared by Hadi as temporary capital after Shiite Huthi rebels stormed Sanaa in September 2014. The Arab coalition launched a military operation in support of Hadi in March last year after rebels advanced on his refuge in Aden and forced him to flee to Riyadh. / AFP / SALEH AL-OBEIDI

A Saudi-led coalition targeted the al Qaeda group in air strikes on its stronghold in the port of Mukalla in southern Yemen on Sunday, killing at least ten militants, medical sources and residents said.

The strikes are a part of an offensive to regain the city, as scores of Yemeni troops loyal to the internationally recognized president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi have launched an operation to drive al-Qaida and ISIS militants out of southern coastal areas the extremists have captured amid the country’s complex civil war, security officials said Sunday.

Mukalla, a shipping hub and provincial capital, is a stranglehold of the powerful al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which has taken advantage of Yemen’s year-long civil war to take control over parts of the south and east.

Residents said air strikes hit a building that AQAP was using as its headquarters, as well as gatherings of the group elsewhere in Mukalla.

A Yemeni military source explained that the air strikes were being in line with the Yemeni troops’ operarion on the ground. In recent days, residents and local officials have reported preparations for a pro-government ground offensive on Mukalla. Residents also say al-Qaida fighters are holing up in buildings and digging trenches to defend their positions from the advancing troops, and the security officials say the extremists have also laid mines.

It comes as Yemen’s government meets with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Kuwait to try to find a solution to a conflict which has killed more than 6,200 people and divided up control of the country.

Saudi Arabia and its mostly Arab coalition have launched their intervention in Yemen a year to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis, who are trying to win control of the country with Iranian support.

Although the main war is being fought between the Houthis and the Yemeni government backed by coalition air strikes, the military and local fighters have also been battling AQAP, which is also subject to U.S. drone strikes.

On Saturday, government forces battled al Qaeda at al-Koud near Zinjibar, another southern city considered an al Qaeda stronghold, while an air strike from a drone killed two suspected al Qaeda fighters south of the city of Marib.

The Houthis control the capital Sanaa while the Saudi-backed administration of Hadi has tried to re-establish itself in the southern port city of Aden.