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In new reports, the terrorist group al-Qaeda has freed roughly 300 prisoners being held in Yemen amidst ongoing battles over control of the territory. Initial reports stated that the number of prisoners was around 200 but it now seems that the situation is worse.
While Saudi Arabia beefs up attacks in an effort to defend the Yemeni government to include airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition, Houthi rebels stormed the Presidential Palace in Aden and released a large number of prisoners from Al Mukalla prison. Although authorities believe the number is now closer to 300, the actual identity of those released remains unclear.
It has been reported that among the prisoners freed were dozens of the rebel’s comrades but also residents and officials. At this time, that information has not been confirmed or denied.
In 2014, Houthi rebels who supported Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former Yemeni President took over the capital of Sanaa. Now, the rebels are trying to overthrow the new President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Coming to the aid of Yemen is Saudi Arabia by launching large military operations.
Although Hadi has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, he remains the country’s President. However, Aden was considered the last seat of power for the country so the actions of the rebels will have a huge effect overall.
Several Gulf States have accused Iran of providing support to the Houthi rebels from a military and financial standpoint although the claims were denied by President Hassan Rouhani. Regardless, Iranians are denouncing airstrikes in Yemen and telling others that they should not play with fire.
In a statement from a spokesman for the Saudi military, advances into Aden were down played. Brigadier General Ahmed Hassan Asiri said that the things going on are expected and for anyone who understands tactics used by the militants understands their number one goal is to create media propaganda opposed to achieving military success.
In addition to the prison break, fighters who were primarily Sunni, looted the Central Bank’s local branch and set up roadblocks throughout the city in the port of Mukalla. A lot of information is still being analyzed but some analysts believe this latest development indicates an extremely new and dangerous phase between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi insurgents.
Analysts also warned that armed groups to include al-Qaeda, as well as militants eager to join ISIS, will try to take full advantage of the chaos that has been generated by the latest wave of fighting.