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U.S.-backed forces have ousted Al Qaeda fighters from an oil-rich province in southern Yemen, according to a military official who spoke to the AFP.
The terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had begun exploiting the instability in Yemen to grow a presence there. A special forces team trained in the United Arab Emirates and supported by the U.S. raided their operations in the Shabwa province on Wednesday.
Another official affirmed that the raid was carried out “under the supervision of the UAE military and with the support of US military advisors who are not present on the field.”
No major clashes occurred and the team has retreated from the area, the source added.
Residents said they counted more than 45 vehicles carrying captured AQAP agents through the province’s roads.
Shabwa contains several small oil and gas fields, and Yemen’s sole gas terminal, which had previously been operated by Total before the civil war pushed the company out.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war in Yemen in order to control shipping routes via the Red Sea. The KSA’s coalition blocked four oil tankers from entering the Hudaidah port on the Red Sea late last month—a move that will likely worsen the health crisis occurring in the war-torn country. A cholera outbreak and widespread famine are already compromising the health of the country’s residents. Fuel is needed to power hospitals and water treatment centers, as well as other key infrastructure.
The Ras Isa and Saleef ports are also controlled by Houthi forces. Any vessels headed in their direction risk being intercepted by the Saudi coalition, which suspects that arms are being smuggled to the Houthis in vessels that claim to be delivering food and medical aid.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…