Yemen: rebel offensive slowed by raids, al-Qaeda took advantage of chaos. The Arab military operation by Saudi Arabia slowed the progression of Shiite rebels in Yemen, but taking advantage of the chaos, al-Qaeda took control Friday of a major military base in the southeast. Sunni Saudi kingdom, which shares a long border with Yemen, launched on March 26 with several Arab countries "Operation Storm decisively" to prevent in his Shiite Houthi rebels take power, and Iran to expand its influence in the region.
On the ninth day of the operation, and amid disruption of state structures and disarray within the government forces, AQAP, the most dangerous branch of Sunni extremist network has taken advantage of the situation and process a real show of strength by taking, without any resistance according to officials, the headquarters of the army and port Moukalla. Hundreds of soldiers were deployed since Thursday in the capital of the province of Hadramout (South East), where more than 200,000. Only the airport and some military camps near their still escape, according to a military source.
In the afternoon Friday jihadist paraded in the streets, and the people, frightened, began to flee. The day before, they had released 300 prisoners in storming the central prison and, according to residents, launched from mosques calls "the jihad against the Shia", confirming the risk of a sectarian war in the impoverished country the Arabian Peninsula, where fighting has left more than 500 dead in two weeks. Sworn enemies but both hostile to the power of the president in exile Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the Houthis and Al Qaeda had clashed violently in recent months.
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The Decline in Houthis
Under intense nocturnal coalition bombing in Aden (south), the second largest city of Yemen Houthi rebels and their allies, soldiers loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, had to retreat from the presidential palace they had taken the day before. On the ground, they face the fighters "popular committees", a paramilitary force supporting President Hadi who had to hurriedly leave his stronghold of Aden late March to take refuge in Saudi Arabia.
This was followed in 2012 Saleh, driven initially by a popular protest after more than three decades in power. The former president is suspected of aiding the rebels, linked to Shiite Iran in their offensive launched in September 2014 and which allowed them to seize large areas including the capital Sanaa.
"The Houthis and their allies withdrew before dawn from the presidential palace after Al-Maachiq air raids of the coalition and violent clashes with the popular committees", told AFP an official.
After the fighting, the rebels retreated in Khor Maksar, a neighboring district, where 12 of them were killed in an attack. Snipers fired on the city from a nearby mountain, according to residents.
Parachutings weapons and supplies
Clashes continued intermittently in the neighborhoods near the palace of the Aden airport, bombed in the night by coalition warships, according to military sources. The coalition, which concentrates its raids in the night, has also proceeded to drop near the port of Aden ammunition and weapons, including Kalashnikovs, sniper rifles and telecommunications equipment, according to a source port. She said that a stock of food and medicine was sent to Aden by boat.
In the neighboring province of Abyan, 11 rebels were killed Friday in an ambush by members of the Popular Committees near Loder, a town under the control of militias, as paramilitaries. Disagreements emerged within the armed forces, rallied to the rebels. Soldiers of the 17th Infantry Brigade, deployed near the strategic Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb at the mouth of the Red Sea, "rebelled against their commander, General Mohamed al-Sabbari, who joined this week, "the Houthis, told AFP an officer of the unit, reports of clashes within the brigade. In two weeks, with the rebel advance to Aden, fighting in Yemen were 519 dead and nearly 1,700 injured, said the head of UN humanitarian operations Valerie Amos, "extremely concerned" for the safety of civilians .