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

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.