Al Mukalla: Local security and military authorities in Yemen’s south-eastern province of Hadramout has declared clearing a large rugged valley west of the city of Al Mukalla from bodies of Al Qaida fighters, booby traps and landmines.
The announcement comes days after the governor of Hadramout, Major General Faraj Salmeen Al Bahsani said that Yemeni soldiers, backed by UAE military advisers and air support, has taken control of Al Mousaini valley, a long-standing Al Qaida sanctuary that extends to some areas in the neighbouring province of Shabwa.
On Thursday, military commanders allowed a group of journalists to cross into the valley for the first time since the beginning of the operation. Officials say that as many as 20 Al Qaida militants were killed in the fighting that lasted for days and an identified number of the militants fled to other areas in Hadramout and Shabwa.
The military forces retrieved bodies of at least a dozen Al Qaida militants and a stash of arms found hidden in caves.
General Al Bahsani has recently told Gulf News that permanent checkpoints would be set up in the valley in order to foil any attempt by Al Qaida to return.
For more than a decade, Al Qaida militants have turned the valley into a military site where they hide their operatives, staging attacks and store arms. Al Qaida militants have suffered major setbacks since April 2016 when thousands of Yemeni soldiers, trained and armed by the UAE Armed Forces, expelled them from their major strongholds in southern Yemen such as Al Mukalla, Huta, Zinjebar, Al Sayed and others.
Meanwhile in northern Yemen, Yemen’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday that dozens of Al Houthi militants, including field leaders, have been killed over the last couple of days amid heavy airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets.
The ministry said that the coalition’s fighter jets struck Al Houthis military reinforcements in different locations in Jawf, killing several militants and destroying a number of military vehicles and machine guns in Al Masloub and Al Metoun districts. Al Houthi supporters on social media have mourned the death of a number of their military commanders killed in Jawf and Hodeida.
In Hajja’s Medi city, government sappers have destroyed dozens of maritime landmines retrieved from the Yemeni coasts on the Red Sea. Rebels have deployed floating mines to attack the coalition’s military ships that ferry off the Yemeni shores to disrupt arms shipments to Al Houthis.