Shabwa elite forces take on al-Qaeda remnants

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, stop cars at a makeshift security checkpoint in the Beihan district of Shabwa province on December 18th. [Abdullah al-Qadry/AFP]

A new military operation to oust al-Qaeda remants from the province of Shabwa in southern Yemen already has charted some successes, a military official told Al-Mashareq on Tuesday (February 27th).

Shabwa elite forces, backed by Arab coalition airpower, have now cleared al-Qaeda remnants from al-Said district, including Wadi Yashbam and Misaynah.

Some al-Qaeda elements have been forced to surrender, while others have fled westwards, towards rural al-Bayda province.

Shabwa elite forces on Monday launched Operation Decisive Sword, which seeks to drive al-Qaeda remnants from their hiding places in mountainous areas, which they have used as a staging point for attacks on Yemeni forces.

These include a January 30th al-Qaeda suicide attack against a checkpoint manned by the elite forces in Nokhan, east of Ataq, that killed at least 14 soldiers and wounded 16 others.

Operation Decisive Sword, part of the response to this attack, began with a series of Arab coalition airstrikes, which targeted al-Qaeda strongholds in Shabwa province.

Al-Said district cleared of al-Qaeda

"On the first day of its launch, Operation Decisive Sword succeeded in its mission of clearing al-Said district of al-Qaeda elements," Shabwa elite forces commander Brig. Gen. Khaled al-Azmi told Al-Mashareq.

Elite forces deployed at the entrances to the district, and set up security checkpoints to establish law and order and prevent weapons from being brought into the area, he said.

They also set up positions on key roads and areas in the district, he said.

The 700-strong force has "succeeded in controlling the district and dispersing al-Qaeda terrorists", he said, forcing some to flee to neighbouring al-Bayda.

Operation Decisive Sword was launched shortly after Hadramaut elite forces launched Operation al-Faisal on February 16th to clear Wadi al-Masini and Wadi Amed of al-Qaeda elements and retake key positions from the group.

Shabwa elite forces began a campaign to purge the province of al-Qaeda in 2017, which has facilitated the restoration of public services and the resumption of commercial activity and humanitarian relief.

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Shabwa elite forces are taking out the remaining al-Qaeda elements. These are new names which we haven't known before: al-Qaeda, Nusra, "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), etc. These groups or sects, which pretend to be based on Islam, just appeared to undermine Islam and kill Muslim men, women and children. Statistics indicate that thousands of Muslims have been killed since those groups appeared. So far, nobody knows how they appeared and where they come from, or who supplies them with weapons and ammunition. What's important to them is to kill people. So far, the financier of those groups hasn't been known. Who supplies those groups with money, weapons, and soldiers? These are questions that pose themselves. When will that war come to an end?