— Five suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed in air raids in Yemen, and troops killed another two insurgents Saturday, officials said, in a new US-backed offensive aimed at reasserting control in the south of the country.
An air strike destroyed a vehicle used by militants, killing its two passengers, in the southern province of Bayda, the provincial governor, Mohammed al-Ameri, told a Defence Ministry website.
On the outskirts of the southern city of Jaar, which is held by Al-Qaeda-linked militants, another air strike killed three militants, a local official told Reuters. Many previous air strikes have been carried out by US drones. “There is heavy fighting, and the armed elements are doing everything possible to stop the advance of troops,” the official said, adding government forces were about one kilometer from Jaar.
The Defense Ministry earlier told journalists in a text message that government forces had killed two militants and captured six others outside Jaar.
Insurgents in the south of the impoverished Arab country exploited months of unrest during mass protests last year against then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory.
Washington has stepped up drone attacks in Yemen since President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February, and the Pentagon said earlier this month it had resumed sending military trainers to the Arab state.
On Friday, an army official and residents said troops backed by local tribesmen had killed 10 suspected militants outside Jaar, whose residents have been told by the military to leave or head to secure areas as the army advanced.
Militants linked to Al-Qaeda retreated Thursday from the town of Lawder, about 80 km north of Jaar, as warplanes attacked and ground troops advanced on insurgent-held towns. — Reuters