Officials said Riyad and Washington joined in air strikes and flew
supplies to the embattled Yemen Army around Zinjibar. They said the foreign
aid allowed the Army's 25th Brigade to break out of an Al Qaida siege that
lasted nearly five months.
The Defense Ministry said at least 280 people were killed in fighting
between the brigade and AQAP. The ministry said most of the casualties, more
than three times the figure previously released by Sanaa, consisted of
"The southern military region lost more than 230 martyrs in the
fighting," Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed said.
Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, has long been regarded as a strategic
location. Yemen employs the coastal city for the transport of three million
barrels of crude oil per day.
Still, Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula remains deployed in Abyan,
including partsof Zinjibar.
Officials said AQAP was regrouping in Jaar, located near Zinjibar.
"We are pursuing limited pockets of militants," Yemen Army Gen. Mohammed
Al Somali said. "But the real battle will be to cleanse the town of Jaar."
Officials said President Ali Abdullah Saleh congratulated the Army from
Saudi Arabia. Saleh has been confined to Saudi Arabia since June when
he was flown for medical treatment in wake of a bombing of his compound.