Yemen’s southern offensive against AQAP continues

Today the Yemeni air force launched a series of airstrikes that targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula locations in Shabwa province, leading to what Arabic media sources describe as “great losses” for the terrorist organization. A Yemeni military spokesman said the armed forces and the Popular Committees attacked many “dens and hideouts” and purged farms and highlands surrounding the city of Azzan of AQAP fighters.

This statement comes a day after fierce clashes broke out in Azzan and Gol al Raydah in Shabwa province as AQAP fighters tried to retake territory lost to the Yemeni military. The military spokesman said today that those areas have been completely purged and are now under the armed forces’ control.

A Yemeni Ministry of Defense website claimed yesterday that the armed forces had killed AQAP commander Faris al Qamisi during the course of fighting at Azzan.

Major General Ahmed Saif al-Yafei, commander of Yemen’s 3rd Military Region, announced today that his forces destroyed a cache of ammunition in Azzan found in the house of an AQAP commander. Yesterday Yafei claimed there were indications from the battle at Azzan that AQAP was forcing children to fight on its side, and he promised that evidence would be released to the media soon.

Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi today described the battle with AQAP as “an open one” and said that the military will continue carrying out purge operations in Abyan, Marib, Shabwa, and Baydha provinces and anywhere else necessary. Meanwhile, a Yemeni military source reported that AQAP fighters are attempting to return to the center and east of the country.

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