The Yemeni Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday (July 19th) that dozens of al-Qaeda fighters, including a leader in the organisation, were killed during clashes with the army in Abyan province.
The ministry said in a statement posted on its website that, according to military commanders in the 25 Mika brigade, government soldiers acting in co-operation with local tribesmen have tightened the noose around al-Qaeda terrorist elements inside the city of Zinjibar and the surrounding areas over the past two days.
The clashes left dozens of terrorists dead -- including a leader in the organization known as Abu Simbel -- and a large number wounded. Security forces also destroyed a terrorist weapons cache in the area of Hisn Shadad, and found sophisticated communication devices, sniper rifles, ammunition, and light and medium weapons.
Two Brigade soldiers were killed and eight others were wounded in the operation.
Ahmed al-Rahwi, deputy governor of Abyan, told al-Shorfa, "25 Mika Brigade forces are on the verge of seizing control of the city of Zinjibar, and have already deployed inside it and in its squares, especially in Martyrs' Square."
He said he expects security forces to liberate Zinjibar within the next two days.
Al-Rahwi said the armed forces have killed more than 50 terrorists in battles during the past few days, crediting the military reinforcements that broke the siege on the 25 Mika Brigade, as well as the co-operation of local tribes and Abyan citizens.
Government troops also regained control of the city of Shakra, near Zinjibar, and positions around it, expelling terrorist fighters from it in the process.
"Since late March until now, the falsity of the terrorists' claims are becoming apparent to citizens, particularly after their interests and homes were destroyed and the tribes ascertained the terrorists' identities and intentions to conduct sabotage and loot public property, " al-Rawhi said.
"[The tribes] reached out to a number of military commanders, making the ensuing tribal uprising a decisive factor in the army's favour in its battle against al-Qaeda," he added.
Abyan radio director Saleh al-Hanashi told Al-Shorfa that the co-operation of people in the region has put pressure on the terrorists, who used to launch attacks from the tribal areas with impunity.
"The co-operation of the tribes deprived terrorist elements of the freedom of movement, [forcing] many of them to disappear from view," he said, pointing to recent successes that broke the siege on the 25 Mika Brigade and allowed it to deploy in Zinjibar.
Mohammed al-Nahati, director of Modiya directorate in Abyan, said that tribal co-operation helped expel terrorists from Modiya and motivated neighbouring tribes to purge their areas of terrorists.
"The tribesmen are advancing towards the remaining areas, including Zinjibar, to liberate them and expel all the terrorists from every directorate in the province, after the people of Abyan discovered the truth about those terrorists who had come in the name of religion," al-Nahati said.
In its weekly meeting on Tuesday, the ministerial cabinet expressed its appreciation for the grassroots efforts being made by the sons of Abyan province in support of the security forces' mission to eliminate al-Qaeda and sweep its elements out of the directorates. The cabinet also praised the performance of the armed forces in hunting down the remnants of al-Qaeda terrorists.