News / Middle East

Yemeni Forces Launch Major al-Qaida Ground Offensive

Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ahmad, right, inspects troops at a military site in the southern province of Shabwa, April 28, 2014.
Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ahmad, right, inspects troops at a military site in the southern province of Shabwa, April 28, 2014.
Reuters
Yemeni troops, backed by air force planes, launched a major offensive against al-Qaida strongholds in the south of the country on Tuesday to try to eradicate the Islamist militant group that has killed hundreds since 2011.

A local official said at least five Yemeni government soldiers were killed in the fighting, in which hundreds of volunteers from a local militia known as the Popular Committees are taking part.

The operation came less than two weeks after Yemen said some 55 suspected militants died in a series of air strikes on the militants' main hideouts in southern Yemen.

“Heroes of the armed and security forces, in cooperation with the Popular Committees, are determined to destroy the remnants of the terrorist elements in al-Mahfad area,” Abyan governor Jamal al-Aqel was quoted on the Defense Ministry website as saying.

Militants from Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its allies in the local Ansar al-Sharia group fled to the mountainous area in 2012 after Yemen's army, backed by the United States, drove them out of cities they had seized in 2011.

The insurgents have posed a major challenge to government efforts to restore stability to the U.S.-allied country since long-serving president Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down in 2012 after months of pro-democracy protests.

The militants have carried out dozens of bombings, suicide attacks and commando-style raids against military installations, government facilities and foreign nationals, killing hundreds of people since 2012.

Local residents said on Monday the army had been massing troops near the town of al-Mahfad in preparation for a major offensive.

Local news websites have reported that several soldiers were captured by militants in the early stages of the fighting and photos were posted online of men in uniform sitting in the back of a truck, between masked men holding an al-Qaida banner.

It was not immediately possible to verify the reports.

Foreign fighters

The operation appears to have come as a follow-up on a series of air raids on April 19 and 20, which Yemen said killed some 65 suspected militants, including 55 in southern regions and 10 in the central province of al-Bayda.

The Defense Ministry said those air strikes targeted “terrorist elements [who] were planning to target vital civilian and military installations.”

On Tuesday, Yemeni president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi said 70 percent of al-Qaida fighters were foreigners.

“Whoever is doubtful of that among our brothers should go to the morgues in hospitals and see the corpses of people whose countries have refused to accept them. They're from Brazil, the Netherlands, Australia, France and various countries,” Hadi told graduates at the police academy.

Local sources said unmanned drone aircraft had been seen above the target areas before the strikes earlier this month. The United States acknowledges using drone strikes to target AQAP in Yemen, but it does not comment on the practice.

Those airstrikes came after an online video was posted on the Internet showing AQAP leader Nasser al-Wuhaishi addressing a large crowd of fighters in an undisclosed mountainous region of Yemen and vowing to attack the United States.

U.S. officials credit the drone strategy for the fact that AQAP is no longer able to control territory in Yemen as it did in 2011. But critics, including some Yemenis and U.S. politicians, say the strikes and civilian casualties are increasing sympathy for AQAP and resentment against Washington.

Saudi Arabia also watches AQAP with concern, since the branch was founded by citizens of both countries and has sworn to bring down its ruling al-Saud family.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid