Yemen military operation purges Abyan of al-Qaeda remnants

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Yemeni fighters take position as they close in on a suspected location of an Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader during their the offensive in the Mesini Valley in the province of Hadramaut on February 21st. Yemeni special forces trained by the UAE have in recent days purged Abyan province of al-Qaeda remnants. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Yemeni forces backed by the Arab coalition have concluded Operation Sweeping Torrent, fully clearing Abyan province's al-Mahfad District and Wadi Hamara of al-Qaeda elements, Security Belt forces said Sunday (March 11th).

A large number of the group's elements were killed and arrested, including senior leader Muhsin Basabrin who was killed in the operation, according to Emirates News Agency (WAM).

The campaign aimed to purge al-Qaeda's last strongholds in Abyan province.

The forces uncovered ammunition depots and large caches of rockets, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and artillery shells belonging to al-Qaeda militants in Wadi Hamara.

The Security Belt and rapid response forces "attacked al-Qaeda elements in their hideouts, killing some and arresting many others", al-Mahfad director-general Ahmed al-Rabie told Al-Mashareq.

The operation complements the comb-and-search campaign launched in November 2017 to raid the houses of some elements with links to al-Qaeda leaders.

That campaign primarily aimed to apprehend foreign al-Qaeda elements that are still hiding in the district.

Operation Sweeping Torrent involved a military plan in which al-Qaeda hideouts and training camps in the province's mountains and valleys were raided, al-Rabie said.

He called on Security Belt forces to remain in the district to prevent a return of al-Qaeda elements, noting that "some elements had returned after the first operation [in November] was concluded".

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These clearing operations have been ongoing for three years. We don't know when it will be fully cleared.