Shabwa elite forces raid al-Qaeda strongholds

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa


Yemeni soldiers re-group after taking control of Azzan, an al-Qaeda stronghold in Shabwa province, on May 8th, 2014. The city is one of the areas targeted by a new military campaign to oust al-Qaeda that kicked off on Thursday (August 3rd). [AFP PHOTO/STR]

Shabwa elite forces on Thursday (August 3rd) kicked off a military operation to capture al-Qaeda strongholds in the province in response to a series of attacks on their security and military checkpoints.

The operation is part of the counter-terrorism effort, which is supported by the Arab coalition forces, Shabwa elite forces commander Brig. Gen. Khaled al-Azmi told Al-Mashareq.

On Wednesday, al-Qaeda elements attacked a security belt checkpoint in Rudum, killing seven soldiers and wounding five others.

"The repeated terrorist attacks have prompted the elite forces to launch the military campaign to capture a number of areas that are deemed to be the group's strongholds," al-Azmi said.

These include Azzan, al-Houta, Habban, al-Rawdah and al-Naqba, he said, adding that the goal is to form a second security belt and besiege al-Qaeda.

A large number of military assets and troops have been deployed to these areas to establish control there and crush al-Qaeda elements who try to flee, he said.

"These forces have been tasked with securing the oilfields and oil and gas pipelines which have been repeatedly blown up recently by al-Qaeda gunmen," he added.

Armed forces determined to fight

The Shabwa elite forces received their training at Hadramaut elite forces camps under the supervision of Arab coalition forces.

They have been re-deployed to some areas in Shabwa as part of the coalition's efforts to combat terrorism, and al-Qaeda in particular.

Shabwa’s security committee welcomed the deployment of the new military forces in the coastal areas of the province.

The deployment of forces in these areas "will further normalise the situation in liberated districts and restore security and stability to them", the committee said in a statement.

Shabwa police chief Brig. Gen. Awad al-Dahbul said the police would hunt down the perpetrators of the Rudum checkpoint attack so they can be brought to justice.

"Such treacherous attacks will not dissuade the police forces from carrying out their mission to secure the coastal areas and protect the economic facilities," he said in a statement carried by a local media outlet.

The armed forces are "determined to uproot the remaining terrorist hotbeds from Shabwa province and to strike with an iron fist on anyone who may be thinking about undermining the province’s security and stability", he added.

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