The jihadists briefly took control of Jaar in southern Abyan province, which a military source described as a key link between main southern city Aden and Mukalla, the Qaeda- held capital of southeastern Hadramawt province.
    
A government official in the town said that the jihadists withdrew hours later after "carrying out an operation" to kill Ali al-Sayed, a commander of the pro-government "Popular Resistance" forces who have been fighting Iran-backed rebels.

Sayed and 10 of his forces were killed in the clashes, the official said. Jaar is a stronghold of the so-called Popular Resistance, which has been battling the Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies, includes Sunni Islamists, tribesmen, loyalist soldiers and southern separatists.
    
Four Al-Qaeda fighters were killed in the clashes, the government official said. "Jaar is now free from Al-Qaeda and Popular Resistance committees," the source said, adding that the jihadists withdrew from the town towards provincial capital Zinjibar, where they already control government offices.
    
Seizing Jaar could secure the link between the jihadists' Mukalla stronghold and Aden, which houses the internationally-recognised government's temporary headquarters, according to the military source.
    
It would allow the militants to send reinforcements from Mukalla to Aden via Jaar. Iran-backed rebels have been battling pro-government forces in Yemen for months, and the loyalists in July launched operations to retake five southern provinces, including Abyan and Aden, from the insurgents.

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