Four UAE sol­diers killed in Ye­men heli­copter crash

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Abu Dhabi, UAE - Four sol­diers from the UAE were killed when their heli­copter crashed dur­ing a mis­sion in Ye­men, the UAE mil­i­tary con­firmed on Satur­day.

The Saudi Ara­bia-led coali­tion sup­port­ing the Ye­meni govern­ment against Shi­ite rebels had ini­tially played down the Fri­day evening’s in­ci­dent, say­ing that the pi­lot had been forced to make an emer­gency land­ing ‘re­sult­ing in mi­nor in­juries to the crew’.

The four sol­diers died when the heli­copter crashed in the south­ern prov­ince of Shabwa fol­low­ing a tech­ni­cal prob­lem, the UAE mil­i­tary said in state­ment car­ried by the country’s of­fi­cial WAM news agency.

Ear­lier this month, UAE­trained Ye­meni spe­cial forces backed by the US launched a major op­er­a­tion against Al Qaeda in Shabwa, driv­ing it out of most of the prov­ince.

The ex­trem­ists are thought to have moved far­ther south into neigh­bour­ing Abyan prov­ince.

Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, seen by the US as the net­work's most dan­ger­ous branch, has ex­ploited years of con­flict be­tween the govern­ment and the rebels to ex­pand its pres­ence in Ye­men, par­tic­u­larly in south­ern prov­inces.

The UAE is a key com­po­nent of the Saudi-led coali­tion which in­ter­vened in Ye­men in 2015, when Pres­i­dent Abed Rabbo Man­sour Hadi fled into ex­ile as the rebels threat­ened to over­run his last stronghold.

Scores of its sol­diers have been killed.

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