ISIL leader in Yemen captured, says Saudi-led coalition

Saudi and Yemeni forces captured Abu Osama al-Muhajer and other members of ISIL during a raid on June 3, says official.

A Saudi soldier stands guard next to a Saudi air force cargo plane delivering aid at an airfield in the northern province of Marib
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting in Yemen since 2015 [File: Ali Owidha/Reuters]

Saudi and Yemeni forces have captured the head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL or ISIS) branch in Yemen, according to an official.

Abu Osama al-Muhajer was captured in a June 3 raid on a house that was under surveillance, Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Thee other members of the group, including its chief financial officer, were also caught in the 10-minute operation.

Al-Maliki did not specify the location of the house but said there were no civilian casualties.

Weapons, ammunition and telecommunication devices were also seized during the raid, the coalition said, describing the operation as “a significant blow to the terrorist group Daesh (ISIL), especially in Yemen”.

The statement did not say where the men were now being held. It also did not provide details on why the Saudi military was announcing the success of the raid three weeks after it took place.

ISIL’s Yemen offshoot was established in late 2014. In early 2015, a Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen to support the country’s internationally recognised government, after Houthi rebels overran the capital, Sanaa.

The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed millions to the brink of famine.

ISIL has launched a string of attacks since it was formed.

The most devastating attacks took place in March 2015, when suicide bombers unleashed enormous blasts at two Shia mosques in Sanaa, that killed 137 people.

In late 2015, ISIL fighters killed the governor of the southern port city of Aden and, in May 2016, a pair of ISIL suicide bombings in the same city targeted young men seeking to join the army, killing at least 45.

ISIL, originally an offshoot of al-Qaeda, took control of around a third of Iraq and Syria in 2014 but has since lost its territory there.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies