Yemeni troops are advancing towards Zinjibar in an attempt to purge it of terrorists, the Ministry of Defence announced on Wednesday (September 7th). The advance comes after the army established complete control over the city of el-Kod and surrounding areas.
In a statement posted on its website, the Ministry of Defence said fighters of the 31st Armoured Brigade, 39th Armoured Brigade, 201st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, and 119th Infantry Brigade are continuing their operation of hunting down al-Qaeda fighters in Abyan province.
Meanwhile, the soldiers of the 25th Mechanized Brigade continue to fight terrorists in collaboration with Abyan tribesmen, inflicting substantial losses on the terrorists.
Ahmed al-Rahwi, deputy governor of Abyan, told Al-Shorfa that the armed forces have made significant progress and cleared the way for the tribes to enter Zinjibar. He said that the outcome of Wednesday's battle was "decisive, in that the army engaged al-Qaeda members in continuous battles and did not give them an opportunity to re-group, as they had done in previous [battles]."
Al-Rahwi said the army has taken full control of the city of el-Kod and surrounding areas, which is seven kilometres from Zinjibar, as well as the farm area known as al-Masamir, which was being used by al-Qaeda as a springboard for attacks against the army.
He added that a large number of terrorists fled from Zinjibar to Jaar, many of them abandoning their weapons, which were seized by the 39th Brigade.
Abdo al-Jundi, deputy minister of information and government spokesman, told Al-Shorfa that the army's victories in Abyan were the result of sacrifices made by its soldiers and the tribes aligned with the army.
"The government is determined to purge all areas of Abyan of al-Qaeda which dreams of setting up an Islamic emirate in the province," he said. "The battle the army is fighting against al-Qaeda is crucial."
According to al-Jundi, Vice President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi is personally overseeing the situation. Defence Minister Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed is commanding operations from the city of Aden, which neighbours Abyan province.
Al-Jundi praised the positive attitude of the tribes in supporting the army and called attention to the "great sacrifices" made in the fight against the terrorists, 300 of whom were killed between May and August, according to a report issued by the Interior Ministry last week.
Sheikh Nasr al-Shaabi, an elder in Jaar, told Al-Shorfa that Jaar has witnessed a heavy al-Qaeda presence during the past two weeks.
"That confirms the announcement by the Ministry of Defence that al-Qaeda militants have retreated from Zinjibar to Jaar, which they have established as a hub from which they launch attacks against the army."
Al-Shaabi said the army fired 20 rockets on Monday against areas in the city where al-Qaeda members are hiding.
Al-Qaeda members in those areas "are using innocent citizens as human shields and their homes as fortified shelters from the shelling by the army, which resulted in losses to the property and homes of citizens, and the destruction of a hotel near al-Razi hospital", he said.
Al-Shabi said Jaar is seeing an exodus of citizens this week, similar to the one that occurred in Zinjibar last June.