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Newly Trained Yemeni Forces Rout Al-Qaida from Southern City

Newly Trained Yemeni Forces Rout Al-Qaida from Southern City

Friday, 15 April 2016 09:24 AM

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni government troops newly-trained by a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Shiite rebels routed al-Qaida militants on Friday from a city in the country's south, military officials said.

Houta, the capital of Lahj province, is now firmly under government control, the officials said. The coalition-trained troops, which are loyal to Yemen's internationally recognized government, were based in the southern Al-Anad base from where they launched the fight to retake the provincial capital, they added.

The officials said the militants fled on Friday from Houta to nearby towns and farmland.

The assault came at a time the coalition helicopters and U.S. drones have waged series of airstrikes targeting al-Qaida hideouts and strongholds across Yemen's southern region. The group has exploited the conflict between Shiite Houthi rebels and government forces to expand its foothold in Yemen.

This week, the coalition's Apaches carried airstrikes in the town of Koud in Abyan province, killing at least 10 militants and wounding others. U.S. drones also struck a sprawling training camp in the southern province of Hadramawt, killing more than 50 militants last week.

Al-Qaida in Yemen is seen by Washington as the group's most dangerous offshoot after carrying foiled attacks on U.S. soil. It was also the group that claimed responsibility for the attack on the office of satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, killing a dozen people dead. The group has lost its top leaders in drone strikes last year after seizing the city of Mukalla, the Hadramawt capital.

The raids on al-Qaida come as Yemen's warring parties have agreed to an open-ended cease-fire that began Sunday ahead of peace talks due next week. Both sides have reported violations of the truce, particularly in the city of Taiz, which the rebels have besieged for nearly a year, and in the outskirts of the capital, Sanaa.

The coalition launched an air campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in March last year to reinstate Yemen's government after the Houthis expelled it from Sanaa and forced it into exile.

Complicating the dire situation in Yemen, heavy rainfall this week in several parts of the country caused flooding and killed dozens of people. On Friday, a security official said three people died and dozens of houses collapsed in at least 19 villages in the coastal province of Houdeida on the Red Sea. The flooding caused damage to property and cut off roads linking the province to the capital.

On Thursday, the floods killed at least 16 while dams collapsed in northern provinces of Hadjja and Amran.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

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Yemeni government troops newly-trained by a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Shiite rebels routed al-Qaida militants on Friday from a city in the country's south, military officials said.Houta, the capital of Lahj province, is now firmly under government control, the...
ML,Yemen
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2016-24-15
Friday, 15 April 2016 09:24 AM
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