JANES — Ground forces from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) participated in a military operation against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in southern Yemen, television news footage has revealed.
The operation to clear AQAP from Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan, was carried out by Yemeni forces, but television news footage filmed on 14 August showed it also involved Leclerc tanks, 155 mm G6-45 self-propelled howitzers, Agrab mortar carriers, and Nimr Ajban light armoured vehicles with Kornet missile launchers: equipment that is only used by the UAE’s military.
M-ATV and Caiman armoured vehicles were also seen, but the UAE and/or Saudi Arabia are known to have supplied these types of vehicle to allied Yemeni forces.
The UAE’s official WAM news agency did not report the involvement of the country’s forces in the operation other than to say that Hadi had praised the Saudi-coalition for its support.
The UAE is known to have landed an armoured group in Aden in July 2015 and this went on to capture the Al-Anad Air Base 50 km to the north, which was subsequently turned into a base to train allied Yemeni forces. There have been few sightings of the UAE’s Leclerc tanks in southern Yemen since then.
The UAE’s foreign minister declared in June that “the war is over for our troops”, leading some observers to believe the UAE would withdraw its remaining forces from Yemen as soon as possible. He later claimed that his comments had been taken out of context.