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Al Anad Air Base

By 22 March 2015 the US military had evacuated about 100 special operations forces members out of the Al Anad air base in Lahj, Yemen [not to be confused with Anniston Army Depot, AL (ANAD)]. The Al Anad airbase was known since 2012 to host the Reaper drones used to hunt al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] leaders and fighters and other assorted evil-doers in Yemen. Al-Anad airbase is located in Lahj, 60 kilometers to the north of Aden and is the largest military airbase in Yemen.

In 1976, the Soviets staged Tu-95 Bear-Ds from Somalia's Dafet (Uanle Uen) airfield. By 1986 they were expanding South Yemen's al-Anad airfield, now used for 11-38 May flights. This would enable them to deploy Bear-Da and thereby greatly extend their maritime reconnaissance coverage of the Indian Ocean, to include aerial surveillance of Diego Garcia.

USS Enterprise was located by two Indian Il-38 Mays during the afternoon watch on 12 March 1986, the Mays passing five times near the carrier with Closest Points of Approach (CPAs) of as little as 500 yards. Bagley recovered a spent SS-N-2C Styx SSM. The next day, another Indian May reconnoitered BG Foxtrot, followed by the Russians, staging IL-38s out of al Anad, Yemen. The Soviet Mays located a “deception group” southwest of Enterprise, but (apparently) not the carrier herself.

In April 1994 civil war erupted following a tank battle between northern and southern troops stationed in ‘Amran province. Over the next two months, both sides used airpower and heavy artillery against the others’ military positions. Many southern brigades were quick to defect as southern control contracted; before long fighting became concentrated along Aden’s two entry points, one the al-‘Anad military base in the north (Lahj province) and the other in Abyan. After a month-long siege by northern troops and their southern allies, Aden was captured on July 7, effectively ending unified Yemen’s brief civil war.

At the end of 2012 there was an attempted bombing on American troops who were stationed inside the base. American troops had been operating drone strikes from the base since 2012. Drones were used to support Yemen’s May-June 2012 offensive against AQAP insurgents and members of the AQAP insurgent organization, Ansar al Shariah, which by early 2012 had seized power in a number of southern Yemeni towns and cities.

In addition to their northern strongholds, the Huthis had a presence in Yemen’s major cities, as well as parts of Mareb Province. The extent of their presence in 2013 in the provinces of former Southern Yemen was unknown. There were some indications of Huthi presence in the security apparatus; for instance a video aired on al-Masirah TV (the Huthi channel) showing an American military aircraft and filmed inside the al-Anad military base.

On 07 May 2013, three gas tanks — containing 6,000 liters of fuel — exploded, sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky over Al-Anad. Firefighters put the flames out before the fire could reach the underground stores where over 220,000 liters of gasoline were kept. Three pilots from the Al-Anad airbase in Lahj governorate were shot and killed 09 May 2013 by armed men who appear to be linked to Al-Qaeda.

By 2014 the Al Anad air base was mostly occupied by European and American forces. A group of seven Yemenis and a US military expert who were taken hostage by a group linked to al-Qaeda were freed by Yemeni Special Forces 25 November 2014. Seven kidnappers were reported to have killed in the overnight operation. The eight were captured in Lahij province in southern Yemen. The freed American was a military instructor who worked at al-Anad air base in Lahij province, about 60km (37 miles) north of the port city of Aden.

On December 11, 2014 Ansar al Sharia, an al Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for rockets fired at Yemen's largest military airbase, claiming they were aiming at US targets at the facility. Its fighters targeted the US section within Al Anad airbase in retaliation for attempts the United States made to rescue American hostage Luke Somers. American photojournalist Somers and another hostage, South African Pierre Korkie, were both killed in a failed U.S. military raid on militants days earlier.

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Page last modified: 22-03-2015 18:01:09 ZULU