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Yemeni govt troops enter Qaeda-held city

Ahmad Al-Basha, AFP | A Yemeni tribesman from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, holds a position in the country's third city Taez, on December 15, 2015.
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Yemeni troops backed by Saudi-led coalition air strikes on Sunday recaptured a southeastern provincial capital held by Al-Qaeda for the past year and an oil terminal, military sources told AFP.


"We entered the city centre (of Mukalla) and were met by no resistance from Al-Qaeda militants who withdrew west" towards the vast desert in Hadramawt and Shabwa provinces, said the officer, speaking to AFP by phone from the city which the jihadists seized last April.

The officer who requested anonymity told AFP that residents of Mukalla, home to an estimated 200,000 people, had appealed to the jihadists to spare the city the destruction of fighting and pull out.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen since March 2015 carried out air strikes against Al-Qaeda positions in Mukalla to pave the way for the entry of Yemeni troops, according to military sources.

Troops also recaptured Mina al-Dhaba oil terminal in Shehr, further east, the sources said, while a provincial official in Shabwa said jihadists had fled from the nearby city of Azzan.


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