Pro-Saudi Yemeni Forces Seize City of Houta From al-Qaeda

First Provincial Capital Recovered From AQAP

Pro-Saudi Yemeni fighters have attacked and capture the Lahj Province capital city of Houta today, in a daybreak attack heavily backed by airstrikes and Apache helicopters, the first significant loss of territory for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in some time.

Officials did not provide specific figures for death tolls, but claimed to have arrested 40 “extremists,” and that dozens of AQAP fighters fled the area. This suggests the city didn’t exactly have an enormous AQAP presence to begin with.

Houta is one of three provincial capitals in Yemen under the control of AQAP, with the cities of Zanjibar and al-Mukallah, both considered far more strategically important, remaining under the control of the Islamist group.

Over the course of the year since Saudi Arabia first attacked Yemen, AQAP has gained considerable territory, and this is the first real loss they’ve sustained, raising the prospect that the pro-Saudi fighters are finally noticing how much of southern Yemen, the part of the country they nominally control, is actually al-Qaeda-held.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.