SANAA, Yemen -- Al-Qaeda has seized an airport in eastern Yemen, an intelligence official confirmed Thursday, signaling that the extremist group is exploiting the chaos caused by the Saudi-led attacks in the country.
Fighters from the Yemeni branch of the militant group, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), on Tuesday seized the Riyan Airport in the city of Mukalla, said the Yemeni intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The group was already in control of areas around the airfield, including the nearby city of Mukalla, which is the capital of Yemen’s Hadhramaut Province. According to the intelligence official, the militants faced no resistance when taking the airport, suggesting that AQAP receives significant support in the area.
The group does not appear to have been targeted by the Saudi air campaign in Yemen that began last month as an attempt to halt advances by Shiite rebels, known as Houthis.
Yemen’s disintegration has accelerated because of the airstrikes, allowing for sweeping gains to be made by AQAP, which has used the war-ravaged country to stage attacks against the West.
Naylor in Beirut contributed to this report.