Al Qaeda in Yemen is expanding its operations in the country and threatens to control another division of the Yemenite army, security officials said this week.
According to the officials, Al Qaeda operatives captured a garrison for the Yemeni army’s 19th brigade in Shabwa Thursday, killing five soldiers.
The same day, it overran the base for the 23rd Mechanized Brigade, near Sanaa; Al Qaeda reportedly set free 60 soldiers during that takeover, which was prompted by reports that Yemen was handing over the base to Houthi rebels.
The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, are aided by members of the presidential guard who are loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was president until being deposed in 2012.
Reportedly Iran is seeking to gain control over Yemen in a similar way in which it has used its proxy terror group Hezbollah to gain control in Lebanon.
In the interim, the Houthis have declared a provisional government in Sanaa, which it seized in September; the slow takeover of other areas of the country have led to the evacuation of the US embassies, as well as the embassies of several EU countries.
The battle between Al Qaeda, the Houthis, and Yemeni nationals to secure control of the country has left it on the brink of a civil war, a UN envoy warned weeks ago.