In a sign of things to come, Yemeni military chief Major General Ahmed Ali al Ashwal recently visited the 139th infantry brigade stationed in the city of Rada’a in Baydah province. During his June 6 visit, in which he was accompanied by the commander of the seventh military region, al Ashwal declared that “the war against al Qaeda is open and does not have borders of a specific region,” suggesting that the ongoing military campaign against al Qaeda might expand from its center in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa.

Al Ashwal went on to say: “[al Qaeda] mercenaries will be chased wherever they are found until they are eliminated and the homeland is cleared of their evils.” Emphasizing the importance of full combat readiness to the infantrymen of the 139th brigade, al Ashwal charged them with teaching al Qaeda “a harsh lesson” and “uprooting terrorism and purifying the homeland” of the terrorist group.

These statements came amid an ongoing military reinforcement of Baydha province in recent days, as the Yemeni military apparently prepares to expand its southern offensive. A political source in Sana’a told the Arabic media on June 6 that Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Masour Hadi had issued a directive to the armed forces allowing for the expansion of the offensive into the central provinces of Baydha and Marib while maintaining forces on the ground in Abyan and Shabwa. […]