Yemeni media reported yesterday that the country’s military is preparing for a new offensive against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on the heels of the three successful US drone strikes last week that killed over 60 militants from the terrorist organization. Yemeni Popular Committees, local armed resistance groups who played a large role alongside the military in pushing out al Qaeda and its local affiliate Ansar al Shariah from Abyan province in 2011, claimed yesterday that this new offensive comes in response to information they received suggesting an AQAP attempt to filter into Lawdar district in Abyan and seize control of it.

A southern commander, Mahmoud al Sabihi, reportedly arrived in Lawdar yesterday in order to lead the offensive against al Qaeda, which is to be supervised by the Yemeni Minister of Defense, Mohammad Nasser Ahmad. Al Sabihi’s reception in Lawdar seemed to portend local support for the offensive, as he was greeted by leaders of the Popular Committees and the military commander of Yemeni forces in Abyan, Haydara Lahatal.

Sources within the Popular Committees said that forces from the 115th Infantry Brigade, the 2nd Mountain Patrol Infantry Brigade stationed in Belhaf, and from another brigade stationed in Ahwar would participate in the offensive. These forces had already positioned themselves in line with the military plan by midday, according to local sources. […]