Yemen Army Reclaims al-Qaeda Stronghold
Gov't claims fighting fierce, but locals report militants fled last night
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2012 8:12 AM CDT
Yemeni soldiers sit atop a tank near the town of Jaar, on May 30, 2012. Last night Yemen forces retook Jaar, as militants fled.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Yemeni forces have retaken the southern town of Jaar, more than a year after it was captured by al-Qaeda-linked militants, reports Reuters. The government victory could be a considerable blow to the Ansar al-Sharia militant group, which captured several southern towns last year. The fighting killed 20 militants and four Yemeni soldiers, according to the Yemeni defense ministry.

Local reports, however, told a different story, reporting that most of the militants had fled last night in the dark, leaving the town empty. The rebels also left flyers that stated they did not intend to "cause any harm to Jaar and its inhabitants," and asked for forgiveness. The Yemen military, backed by local fighters, have been making a big push against insurgent forces over the past month.