Shabwah Governorate offensive

The Shabwah Governorate offensive is an insurgent campaign by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) forces to take control of Shabwah Governorate during the Yemeni Civil War.

Shabwah Governorate offensive
Part of Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen and the Yemeni Civil War (2014–present)
Qaeda in Azzan.jpg
AQAP fighters manning a checkpoint in the town of Azzan in April 2012
DateMarch 2014 – December 2016

AQAP victory

  • Al-Qaeda captured Habban and Azzan
  • Pro-Hadi fighters recaptured Azzan
  • Azzan recaptured by AQAP
  • In March 2019, only 20 percent of Shabwah was controlled by AQAP and its allies.[1]
AQAP Yemen Yemen
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
Supported by
United States United States
Commanders and leaders
Abu Amal [2]
Yasser al Marouh
Sa’ad bin ‘Atef al Awlaki
Tareq Al-Fadhli
Abdullah Al-Fadhli 
Yemen Colonel Mohammed Salmeen bin Lashqam 
Yemen Jafar Al-Hamed  
Yemen Brig Gen Aziz Al-Ateeqi
Yemen Maj Gen Nasser Al-Nuba
Yemen Governor Ahmed Lamlas
Yemen Brig Gen Alawi Ali Nasser Al-Harethi
Yemen Brig Gen Abdullah Saeed Saleh Al-Islami
Yemen Ahmed Mohsen Ruwais Al-Sulaymani
Yemen Awad Al-Dhaboul
Yemen Sheikh Ali Mohsen Al-Sulaymani
Yemen Sheikh Ali Al-Hajari
Casualties and losses
35+ killed[3][4] 30+killed[5][6] 40+ wounded

Habban incidentsEdit

Although AQAP is not active in Habban District, the first violence was reported there in mid-March 2014 when three AQAP militants were reportedly killed while planting a car bomb. According to tribal sources, the explosion occurred near the home of al-Qaeda (AQ) Sabban commander Yasser al Marouh. Yemeni security forces identified the three militants; two were Yemeni, and one was a Saudi national. The house was severely damaged by the blast, but it was unknown if the commander was home. One bystander was also killed; two were reportedly injured by the explosion, and were rushed to Azzan Hospital in Habban. Yemeni security sources told Arabic news outlets that they assumed that the car bomb was being set as part of an operation targeting Yemeni military or security personnel. They said that the Shabwa, Hadhramaut, Abyan, and Al Bayda provinces had been battlegrounds for al-Qaeda and Yemeni security personnel for over two years, and hundreds had died.[7]

In early August 2014, fighting broke out in Habban and on the Shabwan border with Hadhramaut which left 12 Yemeni soldiers and nine AQAP soldiers dead.[5][6] AQAP attacked government troops in Azzan on September 1, killing 13 and wounding 40.[8] It captured Habban in mid-2015, expelling Yemenis loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi from the city. On April 17 of that year, two AQAP fighters were killed by a US airstrike in Habban;[citation needed] four AQAP fighters were killed in Shabwah by a US drone strike on 3 March 2016.[9] On October 6, 2016, a US airstrike killed two AQ operatives.[10]


On February 1, 2016, AQAP captured Azzan without resistance from the population or the Yemeni army. The group then began to establish Sharia law (as it had done in Zinjibar, Jaʽār and another town), reportedly executing civilians for committing adultery.[11][12][13][14] On March 30, 2016, a suspected US drone strike killed four AQAP soldiers manning a checkpoint on the outskirts of Azzan.[15]

On April 25, 2016, pro-Hadi loyalists and UAE soldiers entered Azzan after AQAP retreated without resistance. A day before the AQAP withdrawal, a suspected US drone strike near Azzan killed nine AQAP fighters.[16][17] Azzan was reportedly again under AQAP control on December 3, 2016.[18]

Other incidentsEdit

A reported U.S. airstrike killed four AQAP militants in al Aqlah on February 20, 2016.[19] On March 4, another drone strike killed four more AQAP fighters.[20] A reported U.S. airstrike killed three suspected AQAP militants in the Markhat Bahyan region of northwestern Shabwah Governorate on April 28.[21][22] In early March 2017, a US strike killed 4 reported AQAP fighters in al-Saeed.[23] A day later, US airstrikes killed at least 12 AQAP fighters and wounded civilians in the village of Wadi Yashbum. The home of senior AQAP leader Usayd al-Adani was struck by a drone, killing him. That night, US soldiers landed by helicopter and engaged in a half-hour gunfight with AQAP forces.[24]


  1. ^ Ali Mahmood (March 27, 2019). "Yemen: UAE-backed forces launch military operation to track down Al Qaeda". The National (Abu Dhabi). Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  2. ^ Oren Adaki (October 6, 2014). "AQAP releases video of coordinated attacks in Shabwa". Threat Matrix. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  3. ^ "3 al Qaeda militants killed while assembling car bomb". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  4. ^ Reuters Editorial (4 March 2016). "Drone kills four suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen". Reuters. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b Reuters Editorial (4 August 2014). "Suspected al Qaeda militants kill nine Yemeni soldiers -local officials". Reuters UK. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b Reuters Editorial (6 August 2014). "Yemeni troops kill nine suspected al Qaeda militants: agency". Reuters. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen accidently blow themselves up while handling car bombs". New York Daily News. Associated Press. March 17, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-07-23. Retrieved 2017-03-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Gunmen kill 16 people in attack on nursing home in Yemen". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  10. ^ Roggio, Bill (December 24, 2016). "US military killed 15 AQAP operatives in 6 airstrikes". FDD's Long War Journal. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  11. ^ AP. "Al-Qaeda seizes southern Yemeni town of Azzan". The Hindu. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  12. ^ Ghaith Abdul-Ahad. "Al-Qaida's wretched utopia and the battle for hearts and minds". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  13. ^ "AQAP provides social services, implements sharia while advancing in southern Yemen". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Al-Qaeda captures police HQ in Yemen". Al Bawaba. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Air strikes target and kill al-Qaeda militants in Yemen". Al Arabiya English. Reuters. March 31, 2016. Archived from the original on June 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "Yemeni Forces Seize Main Oil Terminal from al-Qaida". VOA. Archived from the original on April 27, 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Yemen Govt. Forces Retake Key Port City from Qaida". Naharnet. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  18. ^ "UAE-trained Yemeni troops secure strategic Belhaf from Al Qaeda". The National. Agence France-Presse. December 3, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-06-16. Retrieved 2017-02-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Drone kills four suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen". Reuters. March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-06-16. Retrieved 2017-02-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-06-16. Retrieved 2017-02-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ Stewart, Phil; Mukhashaf, Mohammed (March 2, 2017). "U.S. Hits Al Qaeda In Yemen With More Than 20 Drone Strikes". Huffington Post. Reuters.
  24. ^ "US air raids target al-Qaeda in Yemen, wound civilians". Al Jazeera. March 3, 2017. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.