Yemeni forces, AQAP trade blows

Over the weekend, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Yemeni military both suffered losses during fighting in the capital and in a city in the east.

On May 24, AQAP launched an assault on Seyoun in the eastern province of Hadramout in an effort to take control of the city. According to Reuters, a large group of AQAP fighters traveling in 15 pickup trucks entered the city and attacked “at least seven locations, including the main military posts, the police headquarters, government offices, bank branches and the airport.” The AQAP assault was led by “Jalal Balaidi, a senior al Qaeda figure in the region.”

Yemeni forces repelled the assault after several hours of fighting. Twelve soldiers and 15 AQAP fighters, including two Saudis, were killed.

Earlier this month, AQAP attempted to seize the cities of Azzan and Gol al Rayda in southern Shabwa province in similar assaults. AQAP lost control of the areas after the Yemeni military launched an offensive to retake control of regions in Shabwa and Abyan that were run by the terrorist group.

Top AQAP leader reported killed in Sana’a

Earlier today, Yemeni troops from the Counterterrorism Unit killed Saleh al Tais, a senior AQAP operative involved in numerous attacks in Yemen, and four other fighters during raids on bomb-making facilities in the Arhab area outside Sana’a, the capital. Tais is on Yemen’s list of 25 most wanted AQAP leaders and operatives.

According to Reuters, Tais has been involved in numerous AQAP attacks in Yemen, including the January assassination of a Houthi delegate who was negotiating with the government; the February assault on the central prison in Sana’a that freed several AQAP operatives; and the December 2013 suicide assault at the Ministry of Defense.

Tais has been reported killed in the past.

He was one of several senior AQAP leaders rumored to have been killed in a US drone strike in 2010 that was also thought to have killed Qasim al Raymi, AQAP’s military commander, and several other top leaders. But Tais, Raymi, and the other AQAP leaders survived the strike.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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