(Photo credit: Middle East in 24)
Late on 28 December, the Yemeni Armed Forces reportedly launched a ballistic missile strike on Ataq Airport in southern Shabwah province, which is under the control of UAE-backed militias.
Eyewitnesses say the strikes targeted an operations building at the airport that belonged to the Saudi-led coalition, and reportedly left behind “dozens” of dead and wounded.
A video documenting the burning of a building (designated for Emiratis, according to the photographer) inside Ataq Airport, the capital of Shabwa Governorate, as a result of the explosions that occurred a while ago.
— Bin Ghaleb (@GhalebM0nz1i7) December 28, 2021
The attack came one day after Saudi troops allegedly withdrew from the site and handed over control to the so-called Giants Brigades Salafist militia.
Locals say that ahead of the attack at least three armored vehicles carrying Emirati reinforcements entered the vicinity of the airport.
The arrival of the Giants Brigades to Shabwah comes just days after ousted president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi dismissed governor Muhammad bin Adyo from his post and named UAE-backed Awad Al-Awlaki as the new governor of the oil-rich province.
Bin Adyo and his forces were reportedly fiercely against the presence of Emirati troops in Shabwah and had even confronted them on a number of occasions.
Earlier this week, reports indicated that the Saudi-led coalition was “seeking to transfer several militant brigades, which include groups from Salafist and Al-Qaeda linked groups, to Shabwah.”
The unnamed sources said that Riyadh ordered Major General Ibrahim Haydan, the interior minister in Hadi’s parallel administration, to direct allied forces in Abyan province to “facilitate the passage of Salafist militants and members of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) [armed group to Shabwah].”
News of the attack on Ataq Airport came on the same day as the spokesperson for the Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, released video footage of the liberation of Al-Jawf province.
According to Saree, the operation on 26 December liberated over 1,300 square kilometers of the region bordering Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province.
خارطة توضح المساحة الإجمالية التي تم تطهيرها في #عملية_فجر_الصحراء pic.twitter.com/2aO0UtypBW
— العميد يحيى سريع (@army21ye) December 29, 2021