Ten soldiers and 13 al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters were reported killed today in ongoing clashes between the Yemeni military and AQAP in Shabwa province in southern Yemen. AQAP carried out simultaneous attacks in Azzan and Gol al Rayda in southern Shabwa, two areas the terrorist organization seeks to recapture after losing control and withdrawing from them last weekend.

Yemeni security sources said that since AQAP withdrew from Azzan and Gol al Rayda four days ago, the militants have taken refuge in the Kour mountains, a rugged range straddling the border of Abyan, Shabwa, and Baydha provinces.

The battle for Azzan, a former AQAP stronghold, began with dawn strikes today conducted by the Yemeni air force targeting AQAP vehicles trying to enter Azzan from several different directions. According to military sources, tens of AQAP fighters participated in the fighting in Azzan but the Yemeni military was able to successfully repel the attack. Other sources reported that AQAP withdrew its forces from Azzan after taking control of the main police station in Azzan and seizing weapons from that facility.

AQAP launched a simultaneous attack on a military post in Gol al Rayda, the main military post for the Mayfa’a district in Shabwa, where the remainder of the casualties apparently occurred. Military sources claimed that the Yemeni army was able to repel this attack as well. Local residents in Azzan said some residential houses were damaged as a result of the fighting, and that hundreds of families in Azzan had begun to leave the area. Despite local worries, a Yemeni military officer told Al Madina that the situation in Shabwa is currently “under control.” […]