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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Saudi-led coalition cracks down on Al Qaeda in Yemen

Operation Decisive Sword comes as part of efforts by the coalition — which includes the UAE — to flush out the extremists from the east of the country and other areas

Yemeni soldiers inspect the site of car bomb attacks outside the headquarters of a counter-terrorism unit in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen, last month. EPA
Yemeni soldiers inspect the site of car bomb attacks outside the headquarters of a counter-terrorism unit in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen, last month. EPA

A number of Al Qaeda members surrendered in Yemen on Monday amid a new crackdown on the militant group by the Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of the internationally recognised government.

Operation Decisive Sword comes as part of efforts by the coalition — which includes the UAE — to flush out the extremists from eastern Yemen and other areas considered Al Qaeda strongholds.

The National
The National

The operation was successful in securing control over several areas in the Shabwa governorate, reported Wam.

It also released a video showing troops preparing for the operation in eastern Yemen.

Meanwhile, coalition-backed pro-government forces took back from the Houthi rebels the mountainous area of Al Nakhash, east of Sanaa.

At least 20 Iran-backed Houthis were killed during the battle, while coalition aircraft targeted militia vehicles near Naham, Wam said.

Yemeni naval forces also blocked an attempt by the Houthis to plant naval mines around the coast of Midi in the Hajjah governorate.

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Read more: Children among 14 dead in Yemen ISIL attack

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A military source said that Yemeni forces targeted boats some 48 kilometres from the coast of Midi.

Also on Monday, the World Health Organisation warned that a cholera epidemic in Yemen that killed more than 2,000 people could flare up again in the rainy season, Reuters reported.

WHO Deputy Director General for Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama said the number of cholera infections had been in decline in the country over the past 20 weeks after it hit the 1 million mark of suspected cases.

"However, the real problem is we’re entering another phase of rainy seasons," he told Reuters on the sidelines of an international aid conference in Riyadh.

"Usually cholera cases increase corresponding to those rainy seasons. So we expect one surge in April, and another potential surge in August."

The war between the Iran-backed Houthis and the coalition-backed government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi has killed more than 10,000 people since 2015, displaced more than 2 million and destroyed much of the country's infrastructure, including the health system.

Yemen relies heavily on food imports and is on the brink of famine. The United Nations says more than 22 million of the country's 25 million population need humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million who are in acute need.

Mr Salama said the country had also had an outbreak of diphtheria, a vaccine-preventable disease that usually affects children and which has largely been eliminated in developed countries.

Both cholera and diphtheria outbreaks are a product of the damage to the health system in the country, he said, adding that less than half of Yemen's health facilities are fully functioning.

"We’re very concerned we’re going to go from a failing health system to a failed one that’s going to spawn more infectious diseases and more suffering," Mr Salama said.

However, he said that despite more than 2,000 deaths from cholera, the fatality rate has been low, at around 0.2 to 0.3 per cent.

WHO has approval from the government for vaccination campaigns and is working on ensuring all parties to the conflict implement the plan, he added.