Sana’a: Airstrikes and clashes intensified in southern Yemen on Wednesday as Army troops followed major victories with more pressure on al Qaeda militants holding small towns, according to tribal and military officials.
At least 17 al Qaeda militants were killed in the latest phase of Yemen`s offensive, they said.
The attacks came a day after Yemeni forces regained control of two major al Qaeda strongholds, Jaar and Zinjibar, which were in the hands of the militants for more than a year.
A month-long Yemeni government push in the south, aided by US military advisers and bankrolled by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, succeeded in driving the militants from two towns.
The US considers al Qaeda`s Yemen branch to be the terror network`s most dangerous offshoot.
The group took advantage of a security vacuum last year during a popular uprising against Yemen`s longtime leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to seize swaths of territory in the strategic south. That raised fears it could use the area as a foothold to launch more attacks on US targets.