The Yemeni Defence Ministry announced Wednesday (August 31st) that it completed several operations that purged select areas in Abyan province of al-Qaeda terrorists who had established fortified positions.
Dozens of terrorists were killed or wounded in the clashes, according to the ministry.
The Defence Ministry said on its website that security forces delivered severe blows to the terrorists, destroying several hideouts and posts in farms west of Zinjibar and weapons, ammunition dumps and equipment that were used in terrorist operations against the armed forces, security personnel, and citizens.
According to the ministry, the strikes gave the armed forces access to the triangle formed by the Al-Wihda stadium and the old road leading to the city of Zinjibar. Once the terrorist strongholds were eliminated, the armed forces secured large areas of the Dofes Valley and tightened the noose on terrorists within Zinjibar.
The Defence Ministry stated that security forces would continue their strikes until they cleared the cities of Jaar and Zinjibar and other regions of terrorists. Officials praised local citizens for their efforts in confronting terrorist activities and extremist ideology.
Ahmed al-Rahwi, deputy governor of Abyan, told Al-Shorfa, "The success the armed forces achieved by reaching the outskirts of Zinjibar on Wednesday indicates the level of co-operation between official and grassroots efforts (fighting terrorism)."
Al-Rahwi conducted a tour of select military units in Abyan along with Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and Chief of Staff Major General Ahmed Ali al-Ashwal on Eid al-Fitr. Al-Rahwi said the upcoming battles will be critical to maintain security.
He added that co-ordinated efforts between the armed forces and citizens aided the campaign.
"The army's morale is high after dozens of al-Qaeda elements were killed during the last days of Ramadan," he said.
Saleh Hussein al-Zarawi, the governor of Abyan, told the official news agency Saba on Tuesday that security forces stationed on the outskirts of Zinjibar were successful in fighting al-Qaeda.
Al-Zawari said, "During the past two days, the heroes of the security forces have confronted the criminal gangs of al-Qaeda and dealt blows leading to dozens of deaths among them in Zinjibar, Dofes, Jaar, al-Diyyu, Bajadar and Hosn Shaddad. (Al-Qaeda) is using religion as a cover even though religion disowns them."
He praised the heroic stance of the Abyan tribes in confronting al-Qaeda.
Abdul Hafiz al-Nahari, vice president of information services for the ruling Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa the battles are ongoing because terrorist elements enter the country across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia on a daily basis.
"The infiltration of Somali mujahideen has reinforced al-Qaeda in Abyan," he said. "Curbing the movement of Somali infiltrators and the continuous co-operation between the tribesmen and the army will accelerate the resolution of the battle."
Al-Nahari said pockets of terrorist militants continue to exist in Zinjibar, adding that the army is advancing with support from the Air Force.
"What's important is to cut-off the human pipeline from Somalia," he said.
Abdo al-Jundi, deputy information minister, announced in a press conference before Eid that he "does not rule out the presence of the Somali al-Shabab mujahideen fighting alongside al-Qaeda with the goal of establishing an Islamic emirate".
The Security Commission announced in an online press statement published by the Defence Ministry Tuesday that 300 al-Qaeda members were killed in during clashes in the province of Abyan between May and late August.
Officials and citizens expressed their satisfaction with the progress the security forces and the army achieved in confronting al-Qaeda.
Al-Nahari said, "The data published by the Security Commission is great news" adding that it will help raise the army's morale.
Al-Jundi said citizens were encouraged by the news because living conditions in Abyan had become unsafe.
"They were affected the most by those confrontations and were displaced from their homes and fled as refugees to other provinces," he said.
The Refugee and Displaced Welfare Committee of Abyan, created by the government in June, announced this week there are 200,000 refugees in Aden since May.
Nasser al-Mansari, secretary-general of the local council for the Khanfar Directorate, is conducting daily visits to inspect the conditions of people who were displaced. He said he was relieved to hear news about the army's achievements fighting al-Qaeda in recent months.
"I am a one of the displaced, and I live in a furnished full-service apartment, but I live in a state of tediousness, depression, instability. I hope that deliverance is near so I can return to my city," he said. "The news about the killing of al-Qaeda fighters allows us to forget our miseries, even if it is only temporary."
Anis Mohamed, 30, a Zinjibar resident, told Al-Shorfa the death of 300 al-Qaeda fighters was a source of relief for residents whose property was destroyed during the clashes.
"Our joy over the news exceeds our sorrow over what we have lost. We await more good news that would allow us to return home and that our areas are cleared of terrorist elements who have no mercy for anyone, regardless of stature," Mohamed said.