Yemen's Shabwa forces vow to rout al-Qaeda

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Pro-government Yemeni fighters take position as they close in on a suspected location of a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula during an offensive in Wadi al-Masini in Hadramaut on February 21st, 2018. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Shabwa Elite Forces have cleared al-Qaeda elements from 15 districts of the province, and have pledged to continue their sweep until the extremists have been driven out of the three remaining districts in full.

"Shabwa Elite Forces have liberated and cleared 15 districts in Shabwa province," Commander Lt. Col. Mohammed al-Buhr told Al-Mashareq.

"We will soon clear the remaining districts -- Ain, Baihan and part of Useilan -- of any al-Qaeda presence," he said.

"The liberated districts have been secured to prevent al-Qaeda elements from returning," he added. "The Elite Forces are now deployed to all these districts and are sufficiently armed and manned to be able to confront and defeat any potential threats."

During these liberation operations, the forces killed dozens of al-Qaeda elements and arrested dozens more, he said, noting that those who survived fled towards Marib and al-Bayda provinces.

Al-Qaeda elements have sought refuge in Marib and al-Bayda as Yemeni forces are not engaged in battles there, he said, adding that extremists in these areas are not likely to pose a threat to neighbouring Shabwa and Abyan.

"What is important is to clear all the southern provinces to prevent them from ever thinking about returning and causing chaos," al-Buhr said.

Al-Qaeda element arrested in Lawdar

Meanwhile, Security Belt Forces in central Abyan, led by Lt. Col. Ali Awad al-Mahwari, arrested a wanted al-Qaeda element as he tried to flee to al-Bayda.

"We arrested an al-Qaeda element in Lawdar after we monitored and tracked him," the morale guidance department of Abyan's Security Belt Forces said in a statement.

"He is one of the elements who fled from Wadi Omran when the Security Belt Forces, supported by the Arab coalition, cleared it of al-Qaeda elements on February 23rd," the statement added.

"The areas between al-Bayda and Marib are suitable for al-Qaeda elements because of the presence of tribal incubators there," political analyst Adnan al-Humairi told Al-Mashareq.

They also are suitable due to their rough geographical terrain, making them a safe haven for those elements, he said.

"There are al-Qaeda training camps in those areas," he added. "There also are training camps for the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) in Yakla."

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