Arab coalition launches offensive to drive out Al Qaeda in Yemen

The Al Faisal Operation by the Saudi-led coalition — which includes the UAE — is focusing on three main areas and 'is backed by massive carpet-bombing', reports Wam

Yemeni men and security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing in the southern port city of Aden, on November 5, 2017.
Al-Qaeda suspects carried out twin suicide bombings and took hostages, officials said, as they struck at the heart of the Yemeni government after suffering a string of setbacks. The apparently coordinated attacks spell an abrupt end to a period of relative calm that has reigned in Aden, where the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has been based since it was driven out of the capital Sanaa by a rival rebel camp in 2014.
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The Arab coalition backing the legitimate government in Yemen has launched an operation to drive out Al Qaeda from Wadi Al Masini in the eastern province of Hadramawt.

The Al Faisal Operation by the Saudi-led coalition — which includes the UAE — is focusing on three main areas and “is backed by massive carpet-bombing”, reported the Emirates’ state news agency, Wam, on Saturday.

The report added that the coalition forces have entered the Wadi Al Masini, an Al Qaeda stronghold, and have full control of its entry points.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) largely withdrew from Mukalla in Hadramawt in 2016 when government and Emirati soldiers seized the city that had been used by the extremists to amass a fortune amid the chaos of civil war.

After liberating Mukalla, the UAE’s Emirates Red Crescent began aid relief operations and $20 million (Dh73.5m) was allocated to rebuild the port city and other developmental projects essential to Yemen’s economy.

Extremist groups have become a growing threat in war-torn Yemen, where government forces are fighting Iran-back Houthi rebels. Both AQAP and ISIL have tried to expand their presence in Yemen.

Read more: Arab coalition destroys Houthi weapons depot

The Arab coalition intervened in the war in 2015 on behalf of the internationally recognised government and has suppressed the efforts of extremist groups.

On Friday, a Yemen-born New Yorker pleaded guilty for attempting to provide material support to ISIL. Mohamed Rafik Naji admitted that he tried to join the organisation in Yemen.

Naji said he travelled to Yemen in 2015 to join ISIL and “encouraged another person to join”. He said he did not join. Naji was arrested in 2016 and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In August 2015, a law enforcement informant began communicating with Naji via Facebook while he was in Yemen. Upon returning to New York in September 2015, the informant met Naji and recorded their conversations.

In July 2016, five days after an attack in Nice, France, that killed more than 80 people, Naji expressed his support for staging a similar attack in Times Square, according to court papers.