Washington has pledged to provide Yemen with the required logistical support to confront the right hand of Al-Qaeda. Multiple sources have confirmed that US and European warships have docked in the Yemeni port of Aden, facing the coast of Abyen province, to assist the Yemeni army. Since May 13, 20,000 Yemeni soldiers have been engaged in fierce battles with Al-Qaeda militants to liberate the cities that fell under Al-Qaeda’s control roughly a year ago.
Some Yemeni fishermen and sailors told An-Nahar that one ship was deployed facing the shore of Chakra city — within 25km of Zinjibar — to support to the Yemeni ground troops there. While entering the city, the ground forces were backed by the Yemeni air force’s fighter jets, which destroyed a number of the militants’ vehicles and defenses.
In the meantime, US presidential counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan made an unannounced visit to Sana'a to follow up with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and military officials. The meeting was about US-Yemeni cooperation in the war on terrorism and the progress of Yemen’s military operations against Al-Qaeda’s major hideouts in the province of Abyen.
Yemen’s presidential office said that Brennan arrived in the capital of Sana’a “in a visit to support Yemen and reiterate Obama’s commitment to assistance for these critical circumstances.” The office also indicated that the talks focused on US support for helping Yemen complete the second phase of the Gulf Cooperation Council-proposed political settlement.
President Hadi asserted that “the war on Al-Qaeda has gone down an irreversible path, and terrorists will be tracked down until all areas are safe." Brennan underlined the Obama administration’s commitment to providing assistance and logistical support in Yemen’s fight against terrorism to ensure that Al-Qaeda is crushed.
However, political circles in Yemen said that President Hadi called on US officials to further coordinate their efforts in fighting terrorism. The lack of coordination is particularly concerning in light of recent US drone strike operations, whose plan, path and objectives were kept from Sana’a. These attacks took place in the provinces of Marib, Shabwa and Abyen.
There have so far been more than 30 deaths and dozens of injuries in the Yemeni army’s assaults on mobile targets in Marib and Shabwa, and stationary targets in Abyen. According to an unofficial toll, 11 soldiers were killed and 18 others were wounded in ongoing fights in the suburbs of Zinjibar.
Military sources told An-Nahar that army troops moved toward Zinjibar last Thursday [May 10], arriving in the Najdain area to the west of the city. Meanwhile, the 119th Infantry Brigade advanced toward the city while the 25th Infantry Regiment moved from the eastern side of the city toward the area of Hosn Shadad.
An-Nahar has received information from reliable sources that the troops deployed in the Kud area attacked the militants’ positions using heavy artillery, while Yemeni fighter jets conducted raids on Masimir, Hosn Shadad and Al-Koraa. The air strikes destroyed the militants’ strongholds.
As the military bombarded the militants’ strongholds in Jaar, Al-Qaeda leaders denied that the army was advancing. They attempted to reassure members of Ansar Al-Sharia (Supporters of Islamic Law), telling them that they were resisting the army, killing a number of soldiers and seizing ordinances and supplies. Al-Qaeda members also denied that a large number of militants died in the air raids, which also destroyed four houses and injured one civilian.
The defense ministry said that 27 members of a fundamentalist organization were killed, including 10 militants in an air strike that targeted three of the organization’s cars in Marib province. The ministry added that seven militants were also killed in a third raid that targeted a convoy in the province of Shabwa, and four others in a fourth raid in Marib. The casualties included leading organization members, all from varying Arab and foreign nationalities, the security officials said.