In fighting around Yemen, usually the sides involved blame the other side for starting it. Not so today, when both the Saudi-backed Yemeni troops and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) issued conflicting statements insisting they had been the ones who started major fighting in Abyan Province.
The intense fighting raged for hours, leaving 11 Yemeni troops and 15 AQAP fighters killed. The pro-Saudi faction claimed to have launched the attack as part of an ongoing effort to try to expel AQAP from Abyan, a province they’ve had a presence in for many years.
In their own statement, AQAP insisted the Yemeni troops were just passing through the area when they were “ambushed” by al-Qaeda fighters, adding that they had chased the troops out of the area. The fighting took place in a particularly mountainous area, suggesting it was indeed an ambush.
AQAP’s control of Abyan Province long predates the Saudi invasion, and indeed they controlled the area as far back as the Arab Spring, in which the long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted and replaced by Gen. Hadi, who the Saudis are trying to reinstall into power.