Al Qaeda ousted from oil-rich Yemen province: Army
Aden, Yemen - Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch has retreated from an oil-rich southern province in the face of an assault by a US-backed elite government force, a senior military official said on Monday. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), seen by the United States as the global network’s most dangerous franchise, has exploited Yemen’s war to expand its presence in the country’s south.
But the elite force, trained by the UAE, on Thursday launched a ‘major operation’ against the jihadists in Shabwa province. The group staged a ‘tactical retreat’ from the province with no major clashes, the military official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the press. The jihadists appear to have moved even further south into neighbouring Abyan province.
Residents of an Abyan town near the Shabwa border said they counted at least 45 cars carrying armed AQAP militants through their district.
AQAP’s Shabwa stronghold has been a focal point in a longrunning American-led drone war which has intensified since January.
A US air raid on the province in June killed AQAP emir Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, according to the Pentagon.
Shabwa has also been the site of AQAP attacks in recent months, with the Yemen government reporting seven soldiers killed there in a suicide attack last week.
The Pentagon on Thursday confirmed that the United States was helping Emirati and government forces battle AQAP in Shabwa. The UAE, part of a Saudi-led military alliance battling Houthi rebels, said the operation was being ‘closely supported by a combined UAE and US enabling force’.