ADEN, Yemen, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni government forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) helicopters pushed al-Qaida fighters out of key hideouts in the southern province of Abyan on Wednesday, a military official told Xinhua.
The military source said that the anti-terror Yemeni troops supported by UAE helicopters killed six al-Qaida members and arrested key leaders of the terrorist group in a gunfight during the battle for control of the Al-Wadhei area of Abyan province.
"The armed forces arrived in the area and started raiding al-Qaida key sites where key wanted al-Qaida leaders are hidden," the local military source said anonymously.
The troops also recovered two buildings used as arms caches and confiscated several communication equipment, the source added.
Yemeni government forces and the UAE armed forces operating in the southern province of Aden have launched a new anti-terror military offensive "to root out al-Qaida militants from their strongholds in neighboring southern province of Abyan."
Thousands of newly-recruited southern soldiers joined the campaign after receiving military training and financial support from the UAE forces.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in Shabwa and Abyan provinces.
Yemen's government, allied with a Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for years been battling Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels for control of the impoverished country.
UN statistics showed that more than 8,000 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict, most of them civilians, since the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in 2015.
The impoverished Arab country is also suffering the world's largest cholera outbreak, where about 5,000 cases are reported every day.