US, Yemen press to retake Qaeda bastion

US, Yemen press to retake Qaeda bastion

ADEN - Agence France-Presse
US, Yemen press to retake Qaeda bastion

Yemeni Defense Minister Nasser Ahmed (L) stands behind sand bags during a visit to an army position in Zinjibar. REUTERS photo

Yemen forces pressed yesterday with an assault to recapture the al-Qaeda-held southern city of Zinjibar, advancing on two fronts amid air cover in fighting that killed six soldiers in two days, military officials said.

The offensive takes place as U.S. drones have intensified raids against al-Qaeda militants in other parts of the country, killing 12 in two attacks on May 12. Four soldiers were killed in overnight fighting with militants around Zinjibar bringing the total of army losses since the all-out operation was launched on May 12 to six, a military official said.

US drones kill 12 militants

The “wide offensive” began from three sides and was supported by the air force and the navy, a military official had said on May 12, adding that Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed was overseeing the operation.

“The defense minister is supervising a military plan to regain control of the city of Zinjibar and (the neighboring town of) Jaar from al-Qaeda gunmen,” he said. Meanwhile, U.S. drones killed 12 militants in two separate attacks on May 12 east of the capital Sanaa. In the first raid, a drone targeted a vehicle carrying militants on the road linking Marib to Shabwa killing seven, a tribal chief said. In the second attack, five militants were killed when two rockets hit two cars transporting them near the village of Al-Hosoon, outside Marib, a tribal chief and witnesses said.

Attacks on al-Qaeda by Yemeni forces and suspected U.S. drones have increased lately, including an air raid in eastern Yemen a week ago that killed jihadist network leader Fahd al-Quso, wanted by Washington in connection with the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor.

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