Saudi-led alliance helicopter in Yemen ‘forced landing’

Aden, Yemen: A helicopter from a Saudi-led Arab coalition had to make an emergency landing in Yemen Friday, a spokesman said, amid reports of a crash in the southern district of Shabwa.

Colonel Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the coalition backing the government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, said it “suffered a technical defect while returning from an operation in Yemen”.

The pilot made an emergency landing in a government-held area, “resulting in minor injuries to the crew”.

Maliki did not respond to calls seeking further details late Friday.

Residents of Shabwa province, mostly in the hands of the army after an offensive this month against Al-Qaeda, reported a helicopter crash on Friday night which killed at least two soldiers.

Residents said they wore uniforms of the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the coalition which along with the United States is supporting Yemeni troops in the town of Ramadan in Shabwa.

Another five injured soldiers were taken to hospital in Mukalla in the neighbouring province of Hadramawt, they said.

UAE-trained Yemeni special forces backed by the United States earlier this month launched a major operation against Al-Qaeda, driving it from the oil-rich Shabwa province.

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

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

More than 8,300 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemen war in 2015.