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The Battle of Dofas was a battle during the 2011 Yemeni uprising between forces loyal to Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh and Islamist militant forces, possibly including elements of al-Qaeda, during which the militants destroyed an Army artillery battalion of the 39th Armored Brigade in the town of Dofas, which was being used as a main base for artillery support against the militant-held towns of Zinjibar and Jaʿār.[6][7]

Battle of Dofas
Part of Yemeni Crisis (2011-present)
Date4–5 March 2012

Ansar al-Sharia victory

  • Destruction of an Army artillery battalion
  • Capture by militants of large quantities of weapons, including heavy ones, among them tanks

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula[1]


Commanders and leaders
Abu Hamza al-Zinjibari Brig. Gen. Mohammed Ghaleb al Jarabani
Brig. Gen. Abdu Rabbu Hasan Salem
Brig. Gen. Faisal Rajjab
Unknown 39th Armored Brigade
115th Infantry Brigade
119th Infantry Brigade
Casualties and losses
32 killed (initial battle)[2]
42 killed (subsequent air-strikes)[3]
187 killed, 135 wounded,[4] 55-73 captured[5]


In May 2011, about 300 Islamic militants attacked and captured the coastal city of Zinjibar (population 20,000). During the takeover of the town, the militants killed five policemen, including a high-ranking officer, and one civilian. Two more soldiers were killed in clashes with militants in Loder.[8][9]

Over the next few months the military made several attempts to retake the city, but they were all repelled leaving more than 600 dead on both sides. By mid-September 2011, the military halted their attacks on Zinjibar and held positions on its outskirts.


On 4 March, militants launched an attack against an Army artillery battalion on the outskirts of Zinjibar, in the small town of Dofas, overrunning it and killing 187 soldiers and wounding 135. 32 Al-Qaeda fighters also died during the fighting. The militants attacked the Army base with booby-trapped vehicles and managed to capture armored vehicles, tanks, weapons and munitions. The military reported 55 soldiers were captured while the militant group claimed up to 73 were taken prisoner. The assault started with a diversionary attack on one end of the base, with the main militant force attacking the other end of the compound. Several car bombs were detonated in front of the gates, after which the attackers entered the base, capturing heavy weapons and turning them against the soldiers. The nearby 115th and 119th Brigades, which the artillery was supposed to support, were not able to assist the battalion due to them also being under attack. At one point they were hit by artillery from the battalion base after it had been overrun by the Islamists. Reinforcements from other nearby military bases came too late due to a sandstorm. In the town of Jaʿār, the militants paraded the captured soldiers. In the days following the attack, the military conducted air-strikes against militant positions around Zinjibar which they claimed killed 42 Al-Qaeda fighters.[2][3][4][6][10][11][12]

The Ansar al-Sharia group that took responsibility for the attack is believed to be just a re-branding of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to make it more appealing to the devout rural population. Three days after the attack, the group let a Red Cross team into Jaʿār to treat 12 wounded soldiers and demanded a prisoner exchange with the government.[12]


Attacks continued during the next weeks, including a suicide bombing on 13 March, near al-Bayda that killed four soldiers and left four other critically injured.[13] After this attack militants posted a video in which they announced the capture of yet another soldier, bringing the total number of prisoners they hold to 74. They demanded an agreement to free imprisoned insurgents in exchange for the soldiers.

On 31 March, a large group of militants attacked an Army checkpoint in Lahij Governorate during the night, sparking a battle that left 20 soldiers and 4 insurgents dead. The attackers fled with heavy weapons and at least two tanks. Government forces later called in airstrikes that successfully destroyed one of the captured tanks, killing its three occupants.[14] Another similar attack took place on 9 April, when a base near Lowdar was briefly overrun during a battle where locals had to join the military to help drive the militants out. There were at least 44 people killed, including six civilians, twenty-four insurgents and fourteen soldiers.[15]


  1. ^ "Militants linked to al-Qaeda emboldened in Yemen". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Heavy Yemeni troop losses reported in raid". Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Huge death toll doubles in Yemen 'slaughter'". CNN. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b "AQAP claims responsibility for Yemen attacks". CNN. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  5. ^ "185 Yemeni Troops Slain as Grim Defeat Leads to Calls for Army Shakeup". News From 2012-03-07. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b "DETAILS OF ABYAN ATTACKS EMERGE". Yemen Times. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Map: Forces Operating in South Yemen". Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Al-Qaida kills 5 policemen in S. Yemen". Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Suspected al Qaeda militants seize Yemeni town". France 24. Archived from the original on 25 March 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  10. ^ Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Al-Qaida says it captures 70 Yemeni soldiers in Abyan's battle". Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  12. ^ a b "Yemen Qaeda-linked group demands prisoner release". Reuters. 2012-03-07. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Suicide bomber kills four Yemeni soldiers". Archived from the original on 13 January 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Qaeda-linked militants kill at least 20 Yemeni soldiers". Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  15. ^ "emen: 44 killed in clashes with al-Qaeda fighters". USATODAY.COM. Retrieved 15 October 2014.