Some 18 Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) officials have been released by Houthi fighters in a deal struck between the two armed groups, Aden Tomorrow reported today.
The AQAP fighters were released in a deal which would see them assist with an uptick of fighting in Al-Bayda governorate, southern Yemen, between the Houthis, AQAP and the Saudi-led coalition.
However, a statement published via AQAP’s open source network on Saturday claimed the 18 prisoners in Al-Bayda “attacked” prison guards and escaped without any mention of Houthi involvement.
“There was a Saudi-led coalition air strike in Al-Bayda and some Al-Qaeda fighters were killed and others injured – many escaped,” Hussain Al-Bukhaithi, a Sana’a based journalist, told MEMO.
“Saudi has targeted many prisons since the beginning of the war.”
The Houthis and Al-Qaeda are in direct conflict with each other, yet there has been speculation by analysts throughout the course of the conflict that the groups have cooperated at times in Al-Bayda and other areas in Yemen.
Nearly one year ago, Qasim Al-Rimi, AQAP’s commander, clarified that the Al-Qaeda group fights alongside US-backed factions against the Houthis in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition to neutralise territorial threats posed by the Houthi armed group since March 2015. The Kingdom merged the civil conflict’s military objectives with counter-terrorism missions against AQAP in September 2017.