Broadened military attacks to purge Abyan
A security source told the Yemen Times, "The attack came from different sides and the army utilized heavily artillery and mortars, in addition to fierce air raids on areas known to be controlled by Al Qaeda militants, which indicated that naval forces took part in shelling.”
The security source confirmed to the Yemen Times that ferocious confrontations broke out last Monday between the army and Al Qaeda members, resulting in eight deaths and twenty injured from Al Qaeda.
The source went on to explain that "The militants used mortars, shelling and RPGs, taking advantage of the weapons that they looted from military camps in previous confrontations."
The spokesman of the People's Local Committee in Lawdar, Ali Obaid said that Yemeni warplanes distributed flyers last Saturday to locals in Lawdar, Maudia and Al-Wadhee in Abyan governorate. The flyers contained statements that urge the residents not to cooperate with the militants so as to avoid being targeted.
Obaid indicated that the battle in Abyan is centered in Ja’ar and Zinjubar cities. He added that the 25th Mechanized Brigade forces succeeded on Monday in reaching the old compound of the governor in Zunjabar. This coincides with advancement of 119th Brigade, under the direction of Brigadier General Faisel Rajab, towards Al Haroor city in Abyan.
According to the local news website Al-Masder online, 25,000 soldiers and officers from eight military brigades participated in the attack. One brigade follows the First Armored Division and the rest are from the Southern Military Region.
The first military brigades to advance were the 25th Mechanized Brigade, stationed in Zunjubar’s outskirts and led by Brigadier Mohammed Al-Somali; the 201st Mechanized Brigade headed by General Mahmud Ahmed Salem; the 119th Infantry Brigade led by Faisel Rajab; the 31st Armored Mechanized Brigade; the 115th Infantry Brigade; and the 39th Armored Brigade commanded by General Salem Qutn, the leader of the Southern Military District.
The military brigades that joined the fighting later on included the 135th Brigade, which was part of the First Armored Division in Sana'a, and the 111th Infantry Brigade, which is situated in Lawdar where its forces are repelling the militants' attack in cooperation with local defense fighters.
Military sources told Al-Masder online website that the Yemeni security forces are executing a military plan engineered by military experts from Yemen and United States.
The source added, "President Hadi endorsed the military plan. Meanwhile, senior military commanders headed by Defense Minister invigilate the plan’s execution."
Yemeni political analyst Mohammed Saif Haider pointed out that the purpose of the last military attack was not to eliminate Al Qaeda.
"It was to hit Al Qaeda affiliates in Abyan and dispel them from residential areas that they use to shield themselves,” said Haider.
He continued, "I think the battle will go on for some time because confrontations with the militants take place in residential areas."
He added that it has become easy for the army to launch attacks on Al Qaeda especially after locals fled to other governorates, indicating that the army will be able to break into Ja’ar. Yet, he expressed worry regarding the potential causalities.
He concluded that al Qaeda may resort to implementing a retaliation plan in Sana'a and Aden in order to prove its existence in Yemen.