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Yemeni military continues operations against Al-Qaeda - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A military convoy drives through mountains of Al-Mahfad area of the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, May 6, 2014  (REUTERS/Yemen Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

A military convoy drives through mountains of Al-Mahfad area of the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, May 6, 2014 (REUTERS/Yemen Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Yemeni military continued its operations against Al-Qaeda on Saturday, as details began to emerge of the identity of members of the militant group killed in battles with the security forces.

A military source in Yemen announced on Sunday that two Saudi nationals belonging to the organization had been killed in military operations in the south of the country. The source added that the two men, named as Ibrahim Hammad and Ahmad Al-Harbi, were killed in the town of Azzan in clashes between the Yemeni army—supported by local militia known as “popular committees”—and Al-Qaeda in the province of Shabwa.

Sa’id Obaid Al-Jamahi, an expert on terrorism and Al-Qaeda, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Since the start of the military operations in the south on April 29, we heard about many Al-Qaeda casualties and the army’s progress, and the public welcomed that. However, there is a lack of clarity as, so far, many of those killed are still not identified.”

Jamahi added: “There is no clarity regarding what the Yemeni army has achieved in this campaign.” He said the air strikes on areas in Shabwa proved that Al-Qaeda members were still present in the area, despite some recent successes by the Yemeni military.

Meanwhile, sources who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity said a number of suspected Al-Qaeda members had been arrested in the provinces of Al-Hudaydah, Ibb, Al-Bayda and Hadhramaut.

The Yemeni army, in the meantime, warned the public in several provinces that Al-Qaeda members may have infiltrated their areas after escaping the fighting in Shabwa and Abyan provinces.

A statement issued by the army called on the people of Al-Bayda, Ibb and Ma’rib to be on the lookout for Al-Qaeda members.

Elsewhere, a senior military commander announced that the army had taken control of Azzan and the surrounding areas on Saturday after weeks of fighting against armed men who controlled the town.

The head of the Yemeni military’s operational command headquarters, Maj. Gen. Nasser Abedrabbuh Al-Taheri, said search and pursuit operations were still ongoing in the provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, and that they would continue until the terrorists were defeated.

A military source in the Fourth Military Region said Al-Qaeda members escaped to Al-Fahtan and Al-Rabiz mountains in Abyan province. The source added that “these members regularly attacked targets on main highways,” and called on people to expel the terrorists.

In the meantime, the General Staff of the Yemeni army has threatened to respond with force to anyone destroying oil pipelines and electricity pylons in Ma’rib, east of the country.

Pipelines and electricity pylons have come under constant attack by armed tribesmen for ransom or to demand the release of relatives in Yemeni prisons.

Yemeni news agency Saba quoted deputy chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Abdulbari Al-Shamiri as saying that military and security units in Ma’rib “would not allow terrorists, saboteurs and outlaws to wreak havoc on Yemeni people’s resources.”