Saudi-led strikes push al-Qaeda out of Yemen town
An employee walks inside a a snack food factory after a Saudi-led air strike hit it in Sanaa, Yemen, August 9, 2016. REUTERS photoAir strikes by a Saudi-led coalition have forced al-Qaeda fighters out of a key town in southern Yemen, a security official said on Aug. 9.
“Al-Qaeda militants have withdrawn from Azzan, the second city in Shabwa province, after coalition raids targeted their gatherings in the city” on the night of Aug. 8, the official told AFP.
A resident said by telephone that the militants had retreated northwards and “no longer have a presence” in Azzan.
Saudi Arabia’s coalition backs the Yemeni government against Houthi Shiite rebels supported by Iran, and late Aug. 8 resumed air strikes around the insurgent-held capital for the first time in three months.
Those strikes, which intensified Aug. 9, come less than 72 hours after the suspension of U.N.-brokered talks in Kuwait between Yemen’s warring parties.
Coalition warplanes have also targeted the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who have exploited the chaos in the Arabian Peninsula state to expand their presence in south and southeast Yemen.
Al-Qaeda militants are still present elsewhere in Shabwa and in other southern regions, however.
Their withdrawal from Azzan followed a series of coalition air raids against their positions in the town, security officials and residents said.
The coalition has backed government troops who recaptured the southeastern port city of Mukalla in April, a year after it was seized by al-Qaeda.
Azzan lies on the highway between Shabwa’s provincial capital Ataq and Mukalla, capital of the vast desert province of Hadramawt.
Jihadists had previously seized Azzan in February, retreated in April and later returned to the town.
The United States has also waged a drone war against the jihadists Yemen for years.