Al Qaeda ousted from oil-rich Ye­men prov­ince: Army

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

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’.

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