The Yemeni Defence Ministry confirmed that the army on Saturday (September 10th) lifted the 100-day siege al-Qaeda imposed on the southern city of Zinjibar.
The ministry reported on its website that the 25th Mechanised Brigade confronted al-Qaeda terrorist elements in tandem with the 31st Armoured Brigade, the 39th Armoured Brigade, the 201st Mechanized Brigade, and the 119th Infantry Brigade. Together with the Air Force, Naval Forces, Special Forces, and Anti-Terrorism Forces, they were able to lift the siege imposed on the 25th Mechanised Brigade by terrorist elements, the website reported.
Al-Qaeda affiliates took control of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, in May which forced thousands of residents to flee to neighbouring Aden province.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh congratulated the armed and security forces for their efforts in ending the siege by al-Qaeda terrorist elements in Zinjibar.
The president saluted the achievements of the armed forces in a telegram to the defence minister and to senior military officials that were operating in the Aden, Abyan and Lahj provinces against the terrorist elements. He also thanked the citizens of the three provinces for their co-operation with the armed forces.
The ministry stated that "the armed forces of the various units linked up with the commanders of the 25th Mechanised Brigade after they managed to purge several areas of terrorist elements including Al-Wihda Stadium, Hassan Valley, the city of Saleh, the Shaqra area, and the coastline and surrounding areas. The armed forces killed several terrorists and seized large quantities of weapons and munitions."
Dozens of terrorists were seen fleeing the area during the armed forces' campaign, while a number of others were arrested, according to the ministry.
The ministry said that the victory coincides with the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, confirming that Yemen is an active partner in the international community's fight against terrorism.
On Sunday (September 11th), Staff Major General Mohammed Nasser, the minister of defence, along with Major General Salim Ali Qoton, chief senior commander of the Southern military zone, conducted a field inspection of the al-Wihda base in Zinjibar, where units of the 25th Mechanised Brigade are based.
Staff Brigadier General Mohammad Abdullah al-Sawmali, commander of the Brigade, thanked the senior leadership for their support.
Al-Sawmali said the Brigade members are heroes and saluted their sacrifices, adding that the Brigade reported 80 soldiers killed and more than 600 wounded.
Ahmed al-Rahwi, deputy governor of Abyan province, told Al-Shorfa, "The success of the armed forces in lifting the siege and entering Zinjibar was a military and intelligence operation that was aided by citizens of Abyan."
"Waiting for three months before lifting the siege and entering into Zinjibar caused the terrorists to lose much of their strength because the siege took a long time," he said. "The terrorists believed they would win the battle and capture Zinjibar as they did in Jaar."
Al-Rahwi added, "We recruited tribal elements and assigned groups [of them] to cut off supplies to al-Qaeda from within [Zinjibar] and infiltrate its ranks, which resulted in air strikes and military operations hitting 100% of their targets because the coordinates provided were accurate. That broke al-Qaeda's back, causing its fighters to run away from the advancing army," he said.
"The army killed dozens of al-Qaeda fighters including foreigners from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and Syria," al-Rahwi. "The corpses were transferred to the Basahib military hospital in Aden".
"The battle must continue, and the army must forge ahead with its advance to liberate Jaar, eradicate the remnants of al-Qaeda, and punish those who collaborated with them," al-Rahwi said.
Adam Ali, a member of the 25th Mechanized Brigade told Al-Shorfa he never imagined the day would come when the siege would be lifted and al-Qaeda would be defeated.
He said, "I had lost hope I would return to my family, but Sunday's victory and the sight of military brigades joining forces to enter Zinjibar restored our confidence in ourselves", adding that he now wants to continue the battle before returning to his family.