New operation to secure Hadramaut coast against al-Qaeda

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


A picture taken on August 8th shows Yemeni soldiers attending a graduation of new police cadets in the south-eastern port city of al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramaut, in the first such ceremony after the city was retaken from al-Qaeda extremists. [Karim Sahib/AFP]

Yemen's 2nd Military District Command announced Wednesday (November 28th) the launch of a new operation to target al-Qaeda pockets in the Hadramaut provincial capital of al-Mukalla.

The Hadramaut elite forces were heavily deployed Wednesday morning in Yabath district in western al-Mukalla as part of Operation Iron Fist, the command said in a statement.

The operation aims to "tighten the security grip" on Sahel (coastal) Hadramaut districts, it said.

"Operation Iron Fist is part of the joint efforts of the 2nd Military District and Arab coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to combat terrorism and establish security and stability in the area," the statement said.

The operation aims to establish military presence for the first time in years in western coastal areas of Hadramaut, which are also adjacent to Shabwa province, 2nd Military District spokesman Hesham al-Jabri told Al-Mashareq.

"The areas targeted by this military deployment are used by al-Qaeda terrorists to move between Hadramaut and neighbouring provinces," he said.

The operation also aims to crack down on al-Qaeda remnants and stamp out any of their safe havens in the area, he added.

The elite forces dispatched to Yabath district have deployed at all designated military points, al-Jabri said.

"The local population has welcomed them with open arms, as it has been a while since the army and security forces have had any presence in the area," he said.

With this new deployment, the 2nd Military District has now taken full control over all Sahel Hadramaut districts, he said.

Operation Iron Fist complements Operation Black Mounts which the 2nd Military District launched on April 28th to crack down on terrorists in north-west Hadramaut, al-Jabri said.

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