Four dead as Yemen troops clash with Al-Qaeda

Yemeni men and security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing in the southern port city of Aden, in this November 5, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Four dead as Yemen troops clash with Al-Qaeda

ADEN: Two soldiers and two terrorists were killed in clashes Friday as Emirati-backed Yemeni forces seized an Al-Qaeda foothold in the country’s south, security sources said.
Militants fled to nearby mountains after the clashes in Al-Hawtah district of Shabwa province, said a Yemeni officer.
He said Apache helicopters belonging to the UAE — a key member of a Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen — then strafed the mountains where the terrorists had fled.
“We entered Al-Hawtah after clashes with the terrorists and now we’re stationed in several locations... We are in total control of the area,” the officer said.
The UAE has been playing a key role in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, launched in 2015 to roll back Houthi militia gains but which has expanded to counter militant advances.
Al-Qaeda has flourished in the chaos of Yemen’s civil war and in August, Emirati-trained Yemeni special forces launched a US-backed operation against the group, also the target of a long-running US drone campaign.
Yemeni forces have brought Shabwa province largely under government control, though Al-Qaeda is known to make tactical retreats to mountain refuges, only to resurface.
Houthi militias still occupy one district of Shabwa as well as the neighboring province of Baida, the capital Sanaa and most of northern Yemen.


Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

Syrian pro-government forces hold a position near the village of al-Malihah, in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on September 9, 2017, during the ongoing battle against Daesh group. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

  • The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said Sunday that air defenses had opened fire near Damascus airport, before withdrawing the report after what appeared to be a false alarm.
“Our air defenses engaged hostile aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport,” the official SANA news agency said, without providing more details.
But the report was later withdrawn by both SANA and state television without explanation.
SANA then quoted sources at the airport as saying that “there was no aggression” and that “traffic was normal.”
A well-informed source told AFP that “there was evidently a false alarm.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the sound of explosions rocked an area close to the airport and fire from air defenses was also heard.
The latest incident comes just over a week after Syria accused Israel of striking south of the capital.
The Britain-based Observatory said those were the first missiles to hit Syria since an air defense upgrade after the downing of a Russian plane in September.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them in the area south of Damascus.
Iran and Russia are the government’s key allies in the civil war that has raged Syria since 2011, and Moscow’s intervention in 2015 dramatically turned the tables against the rebels.
The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus insisted would make Israel “think carefully” before carrying out further air raids.
The move raised fears in Israel that its ability to rein in its arch foe Iran’s military presence in Syria would be sharply reduced.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia that Israel would continue to hit hostile targets, while also maintaining “security coordination” with Moscow.