Al Mukalla: A tribal leader battling Al Houthis in northern Yemen has strongly denied US Treasury accusations that he aided and abetted Al Qaida in Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP, by providing it with arms and ammunition and commanding its fighters.

Al Hassan Ali Abkar, a pro-government resistance fighter from Jawf province, said in a statement he condemns terrorist attacks by Al Qaida in Yemen and is ready to appear in a Yemeni court to refute the accusations.

“I categorically deny that I ever supported terrorist individuals or groups inside or outside Yemen and I strongly condemn terrorist activities and reject supporting them morally or financially,” the statement said.

On December 7, the US Treasury slapped financial sanctions on Abkar, Abdullah Faisal Al Ahdal, an Islamic cleric, and his charitable association Al Rahma, for supplying Al Qaida with weapons and raising funds for their activities.

Al Ahdal and his association are based in Hadramout’s port city of Sheher.

Abkar hails from the Ghayel district in the northern province of Jawf where the government forces, with the help of Abkar’s men, took control of major cities, including the capital.

The United States have recently sanctioned Al Omgy Exchange Company, a big financial company based in south Yemen, and two of its owners accusing them of facilitating Al Qaida activities and funnelling arms and money to the militant group who ruled the city of Mukalla, capital of Hadramout province, from April 2015 to April 2016.

The company issued a statement saying that the accusations are “baseless” and vowed to challenge them legally.

In May, Nayef Al Qaysi, the governor of Baydha province, was designated as a terrorist figure by the US Treasury for financially supporting Al Qaida in Yemen.

The US imposed sanctions on Abdul Wahab Al Homayqani, the Secretary-General of the Salafi Al Rashad party, in 2014, saying the man sent money to the militant group.

Meanwhile, on the ground, fighting raged between the government forces and Al Houthis in the northern province of Jawf when rebel forces mounted a fresh assault to recapture new areas.

Army commanders said on Friday that the loyalists pushed back Al Houthis attack on their locations in Al Khanjer region in Khab and Al Sha’af district.

Meanwhile in Al Houthi-held Sana’a, residents said on Friday afternoon that Saudi-coalition warplanes pounded military sites and suspected arms depots in different areas, triggering heavy explosions.