Several senior commanders of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist group have been killed in an offensive launched by Yemeni army forces and Popular Committees in the central Yemeni province of al-Bayda.
Local media outlets said Yemeni forces and their allies targeted AQAP strongholds in the al-Sawma'ah district of the province on Saturday, killing a number of al-Qaeda members and their commanders in the process.
The sources said al-Qaeda elements and Saudi-backed militants suffered heavy casualties during the attacks, including the death of the self-proclaimed al-Qaeda governor of Bayda, Abu Dharr al-Tayabi.
“The commanders of al-Qaeda terrorist group had gathered in Tayab area to coordinate attacks on Yemeni army troops and Popular Committees. Their gathering place came under attack by a barrage of artillery rounds,” a source said.
“A number of militant commanders, including Mohammed Hussein al-Junaidi – commander of al-Qaeda militants in the Mudiyah district of Abyan province, Tawfiq al-Farawi, Abdul Hakim Mubarak al-Qaisi, and Othman Ahmad Abdullah al-Mushdali, were among those killed.”
The development took place a day after Muammar al-Iryani, Yemeni information minister in the administration of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, announced the start of military operations against Yemeni army soldiers and Popular Committees fighters in al-Bayda province.
On June 16, tribal sources in Ma’rib province said Saudi-led coalition forces were using al-Qaeda elements to open new fronts in al-Bayda province.
Last year, minister of interior in the Yemeni National Salvation Government Abdul Karim al-Houthi also said that the Saudi-led coalition was using elements of Daesh and al-Qaeda terrorist groups to fight Yemeni forces.
"According to our information, a large number of Daesh and al-Qaeda terrorists have joined the ranks of Yemeni aggressors and their mercenaries in occupied territories, especially in al-Bayda province,” he told Yemen's al-Masira television network at the time.
Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and regional allies, launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Hadi’s government back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.
Yemeni armed forces and allied Popular Committees have, however, gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.
The Saudi war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. The war has also destroyed Yemen's infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases across the Arab country.