SANA, Yemen — At least 22 al-Qaida-linked militants and 12 Yemeni soldiers were killed in clashes and airstrikes overnight during a U.S.-backed offensive against insurgents in the south of the country, Yemeni officials said Saturday.
Fighting erupted late on Friday and carried on into Saturday on the outskirts of the southern city of Jaar, held by Islamist militants who have stepped up their campaign during months of political turmoil.
Government troops, backed by U.S. drone strikes, have been trying to push the insurgents out of strongholds in the country's south, which lies near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.
Washington has stepped up drone attacks in Yemen since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February. The Pentagon said this month that it had resumed sending military trainers to the Arab state.
Washington and Yemen's neighbor Saudi Arabia both fear the instability in Yemen could give al-Qaida's regional wing a stronger foothold in the region.