SANAA, Yemen -- A top U.S. aid official says the United States plans to give Yemen an additional $52 million in aid for areas hit hard by Yemen's war on al-Qaida.

The U.S. has been backing Yemen's offensive aimed at uprooting al-Qaida militants from areas in the south they overran during a year of internal political turmoil.

A statement Thursday from Raj Shah, The United States Agency for International Development administrator, said the new aid is directed at "conflict afflicted areas" in the provinces of Lahj, Aden and Abyan, scenes of fierce clashes between al-Qaida militants and Yemeni forces.

The U.S. considers the Yemen branch of al-Qaida the most dangerous of the militant group's network.

The new aid brings total U.S. assistance to Yemen to $170 million, according to the statement.

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