New push to rout al-Qaeda from al-Mahfad
Security Belt Forces on Tuesday (August 6th) kicked off a campaign to track down al-Qaeda elements in the valleys and mountainous areas of Abyan province's al-Mahfad after deadly attacks in the district killed 20 soldiers.
In a statement, the Security Belt Forces said they had "launched a security campaign on the directive of their commander in Abyan, Brig. Gen. Abdul Latif al-Sayed, to crack down on al-Qaeda elements in al-Mahfad".
The campaign, backed by the Arab coalition and the support brigades, comes four days after al-Qaeda on Friday attempted to capture a Security Belt Forces base in al-Mahfad district, the statement said.
Nineteen members of the UAE-backed force were killed in that attack, before military reinforcements arrived and succeeded in driving out al-Qaeda with air support from the Arab coalition.
Another member of the Security Belt Forces was killed the following day, when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by al-Qaeda exploded as the force conducted a sweep of Wadi al-Khayyala in response to the Friday attack.
Led by Abdul Aziz al-Shamsi, the campaign is focused on Wadi al-Khayyala and several areas where intelligence information points to the presence of al-Qaeda elements, the statement said.
It is slated to continue until al-Qaeda has been eliminated from al-Mahfad.
Crackdown 'will succeed'
The crackdown on al-Qaeda elements and sleeper cells must continue and will succeed in achieving its goals, al-Mahfad director-general Ahmed al-Rabie said.
The community supports the effort to establish security and stability, he said, stressing that "nobody stands with those saboteurs who seek to kill, destroy and spread chaos".
"The integration and co-ordination of security efforts among the different security agencies will strengthen the security forces in confronting the terrorists," al-Rabie said.
Intensive security meetings have been held in Abyan province over the past two days, political analyst and journalist Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.
The goal was to consolidate the efforts of the various security agencies, he said.
"The Abyan governor chaired those meetings, which were attended by commanders of the Security Belt Forces, Abyan police chief, and other unit commanders," Ahmed said.
"Statements by the Abyan security chief have confirmed that the province seeks to strengthen the role of police and security units in different districts," he said.
"This will be a high-quality addition to the other efforts the Security Belt Forces are making," he added, stressing the need to step up intelligence operations to counter al-Qaeda.
"Intensified intelligence efforts and the co-operation of local residents will be a great help in discovering al-Qaeda's plots before they are actually carried out," Ahmed said.