Monday, March 28, 2016

Al-Qaeda 'shoots down Emirati jet with surface-to-air-missile'

Al-Qaeda has shot down a fighter jet in Yemen with a surface-to-air missile, it was claimed yesterday, raising fears that jihadists are gaining access to more sophisticated weaponry.
The Emirati plane was destroyed earlier this month while flying low during a strike on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targets.
Local authorities insist the French-made mirage jet crashed due to a "technical malfunction."
But sources in Yemen have told the Independent that it was shot down with a Russian SA-7, a powerful heat-seeking missile with a "kill zone" of up to 15,000 metres at altitude.
The incident marks a worrying escalation in the country's civil war and adds to concerns that jihadists groups in the Middle East are acquiring more advanced weapons.

"Al-Qaeda has confiscated huge amounts of weapons from bases in Yemen,” the source told the Independent.

"[They] are smarter than Islamic State. They speak with the tribal elders, they co-opt people, get them on their side.

"Islamic State uses fear and coercion," they added, "it’s flashy and seeks a lot of attention but al-Qaeda is laying low and playing the long game.”

The source also claimed that "co-operative army officers” were helping the jihadists to obtain weapons, many of which were supplied by the US to Yemeni forces during the presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The source said that soldiers loyal to Saleh, who was forced out of power in 2012 following mass protests, and soldiers supporting Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen's current president, were also selling weapons to al-Qaeda.

"They are getting the weapons from both sides," they said.

It comes as tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the civil war, which rages on between a Saudi-led coalition and Iran-allied fighters who overthrew Saleh's government. 

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