Saudi coalition forces Al Qaida out from key Yemen port city

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About 2,000 Saudi-led coalition troops launched an offensive that drove Al Qaida jihadists from their Yemeni stronghold on April 24.

People inspect damage at a site hit by Saudi-led air strikes in the al Qaeda-held port of Mukalla city in southern Yemen April 24. /Reuters
People inspect damage at a site hit by Saudi-led air strikes in the Al Qaida-held port city of Mukalla on April 24. /Reuters

More than 800 Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters were killed and the remainder fled as the force of Yemeni and Emirati troops advanced on the port city of Mukalla, according to coalition sources. AQAP had controlled the Hadramout provincial capital since May 2015.

The death toll could not be independently verified but some observers said the coalition’s claims were highly overstated.

Iona Craig, a journalist who said she was in Mukalla last month and regularly communicates with residents there, described the coalition’s claim as “ridiculous”.

“There weren’t even 800 fighters left there,” she told Al Jazeera by phone from the UK. “There was no fighting inside the city because Al Qaida had already left.”

A coalition military officer told AFP that “we entered the city center and were met by no resistance from Al Qaida militants who withdrew west” towards the desert in Hadramout and Shabwa provinces.

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