UAE-backed militias claim control of Shabwah province, make inroads into Marib
Over recent weeks the Saudi-led coalition has handed control of oil-rich Shabwah to Salafist militias allied with Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula
By News Desk - January 11 2022

Giants Brigades’ fighters loyal to the Saudi-backed government, gather with armed pick-up trucks and armored vehicles on the side of a road during the offensive to seize the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. 21 June, 2018. (Photo credit: Saleh Al-Obeidi/AFP)

On 11 January, a UAE-backed Salafist militia group announced it has recaptured the southern province of Shabwah from the Yemeni Armed Forces.

A statement by the so-called Giants Brigades said that the militia has managed to push the Yemeni army out of three districts they had gained control of in the oil-rich southern province.

“Our forces took full control [of] Al Ain district after recapturing the infantry base of 153 brigade and Najed al Markad between Ain district and Bayhan district,” the statement reads.

The three districts have witnessed fierce clashes in recent days between the Yemeni Armed Forces and militias backed by the Saudi-led coalition.

In late December 2021, the Saudi-led coalition sent war planes and artillery vehicles to Shabwah to provide support to the Giants Brigade. It also reportedly deployed hundreds of militants, including those from groups linked to Al-Qaeda, to the province.

The statement by the Giants brigade acknowledged the participation of the Saudi-led coalition troops in the battles of Shabwah.

In a subsequent announcement a spokesperson for the militia, Turki al-Maliki, also announced that fighters advanced into neighboring Marib province, recapturing most of the Harib district.

The presence of the Saudi-led coalition troops in southern Yemen has become a source of division between the members of the parallel government of former Saudi-backed president Abd Mansour Hadi.

On 25 December Hadi fired the governor of the province for the speaking out against the presence of the foreign forces.

Yemen has been rocked by a nearly seven-year long conflict that broke out in early 2015 when Saudi Arabia along with its allies invaded the country in an attempt to restore the government of ousted president Hadi.

The war has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people while more than a million others have been forced to flee their homes, leading to what the UN has described as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”

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