US-backed coalition paid al Qaeda fighters to retreat in Yemen: report

US-backed coalition paid al Qaeda fighters to retreat in Yemen: report
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A U.S.-backed military coalition in Yemen has agreed to financial deals with al Qaeda fighters in the region to get them to vacate key battle areas, The Associated Press reported Monday.

The AP found that the coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, secretly made arrangements to pay some al Qaeda fighters to leave cities, while others were allowed to retreat with weapons, equipment and cash.

The U.S. has worked with a coalition that has been fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen for the last two years. Al Qaeda fighters have at times joined the ranks of the anti-Houthi coalition, putting them on the same side as the U.S. in the conflict.

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As a result of the agreements, al Qaeda has been able to retain its numbers and in some cases its resources in the region, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, the U.S. opposes al Qaeda fighters in other parts of the world.

A senior American official told reporters earlier this year that the U.S. is aware of al Qaeda fighters joining the anti-Houthi ranks. However, a Pentagon official denied any alignment with al Qaeda fighters.

The conflict in Yemen has led to a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of civilians being killed and others dying of famine as the country has faced a blockade.

Middle East expert Katherine Zimmerman told Hill.TV's "Rising" last month that the largest humanitarian crisis in the world is happening in Yemen.

"As the conflict goes on, the people are suffering, and it's to the point now where we're looking at a cholera epidemic, and massive risk of famine," Zimmerman said.