Yemen's al-Qaida branch denied on Friday an Associated Press report saying it struck secret deals over territories it controls with the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in the country.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — considered the terror group's most dangerous branch after failed attacks on U.S. soil — said in a statement posted on its Telegram channel that the report "lacks evidence, reality, or credibility."
It added that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cooperated with the U.S. using "the dirtiest means," which the group said it would uncover soon.
The statement comes after the AP outlined how Emirati forces have integrated al-Qaida members into the ranks of newly formed militias that currently control most of southern Yemen.
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According to the AP investigation, the Saudi coalition cut secret deals with Al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.
These compromises and alliances have allowed Al-Qaida militants to survive to fight another day. Key participants in the pacts said the U.S. was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes.
The deals uncovered by the AP reflect the contradictory interests of the two wars being waged simultaneously in this southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Associated Press stands by its reporting.