Yemeni military chief perishes in roadside explosion by Al-Qaeda
Yemeni military chief perishes in roadside explosion by Al-Qaeda

Al Mukalla: An explosive device planted by Al-Qaeda in southern Yemen on Thursday killed a Yemeni military commander who had led the country's fight against terror groups for more than ten years.

The highest ranking official to lose his life in the fight against Al-Qaeda in more than a year was Brig. Abdul Latif Al-Sayed, commander of the Security Belt forces in the province of Abyan. 

Al-Sayed and three of his soldiers perished when an IED placed by Al-Qaeda in the Omaran valley detonated in their vehicle.

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In order to drive Al-Qaeda militants out of their strongholds in the Moudia district of Abyan, the Yemeni the commander was inspecting troops sent into the area's mountainous terrain.

An offensive against Al-Qaeda militants using the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa as havens was launched by the pro-independence Security Belt a year ago, supported by a number of military and security units loyal to the Southern Transitional Council.

As the troops advanced, Al-Qaeda used deadly guerrilla tactics, including hit-and-run attacks, the laying of roadside bombs and land mines.

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The attacks have claimed the lives of more than 100 soldiers, some of whom were field commanders.

According to Mohammed Al-Naqeeb, a spokesman for the southern forces that support independence, Al-Sayed's passing won't deter troops from their operations against Al-Qaeda.


"Despite the high cost, we won't give up on our fight against terrorism. Our ground forces make important strides every time a commander is awarded the title of martyr," he said.

According to Al-Naqeeb, southern forces have entered Abyan's mountainous areas over the past three days and taken control of an Al-Qaeda base in the Al-Janan valley.

Al-Sayed was a member of Al-Qaeda until he defected in 2012; he was born in the Khanfar region of Abyan in 1972. He established armed groups in Abyan using his understanding of the terrorist organisation to support the army in its battle. 

As the Houthis advanced into the southern province in the early months of 2015, Al-Sayed moved his fighters from Abyan to Aden in order to fend off the insurgents.

In an effort to persuade Al-Sayed to give up, Al-Qaeda attempted to kill him more than ten times and executed some of his relatives.

Despite assurances from security and military officials that the fight against Al-Qaeda will continue, local and international terrorism experts believe Al-Sayed's passing will negatively impact military operations.

"His passing is a devastating setback to efforts to combat terrorism, especially in Aden and Abyan," said Fatehi bin Lazerq, editor of the Aden Al-Ghad newspaper.

The significance of Al-Sayed "extended far beyond his role as a security official, so his passing will have a major effect," Lazerq said.

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Al-Sayed took part in military operations across Aden and the neighbouring province of Abyan to drive out Al-Qaeda and Daesh militants who took advantage of the chaos to seize control of areas in both provinces after Aden was liberated from the Houthis in July 2015.

Elisabeth Kendall, a terrorism expert and mistress of Girton College at the University of Cambridge in the UK, told Arab News that Al-Sayed's death not only represents a significant victory for Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP, which had been pursuing him for years, but also a serious setback for anti-Al-Qaeda troops. 


On a practical level, (Al-Sayed) has been one of AQAP's most ferocious adversaries. On a symbolic level, AQAP has been trying to kill him for about ten years, so finally succeeding in doing so is a big boost, especially for AQAP in Abyan," she said.

"His assassination raises AQAP morale and eliminates one of AQAP's most capable and motivated adversaries from the southern arena.

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