Yemeni pro-government forces patrol during clashes against Shiite rebels in Yemen's western Dhubab district, about 30 kms (20 miles) north of the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait, on January 11, 2017. (AFP/Xinhua)
ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni counter-terrorism forces arrested on Tuesday a leader of the Yemen-based affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group suspected of recruiting suicide assailants in the southern port city of Aden.
A statement released by the counter-terrorism unit in Aden said that "a mid-level commander" of IS was captured during a "surprise anti-terror operation conducted in Aden's neighborhood of Enma."
The captured suspect had been using social media accounts in recruiting young people from local mosques into IS group as suicide bombers, the statement said.
"The suspect confessed to recruiting more than 25 young people as suicide bombers, nearly five of them have since launched attacks against locations in Aden," the statement added.
A military official told Xinhua that the security forces and other military units tightened security measures around state facilities and deployed many patrols to track the remaining 20 would-be suicide attackers in Aden.
The counter-terrorism unit released the suspect's personal picture on Facebook without mentioning his full name.
The southern port city of Aden is the headquarters of Yemen's internationally-backed President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government.
Aden witnessed several well-planned assassinations and armed attacks after Saudi-backed forces drove the Shiite Houthi rebels out from the strategic city in July 2015.
However, the newly-trained anti-terrorism troops supported by United Arab Emirates (UAE) armored vehicles made substantial achievements in recent weeks, disabling several explosive material factories used by terrorists to manufacture car bombs in Aden.
In addition, several commanders of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch were captured in the successful raids conducted by the UAE-backed Yemeni forces in Aden and neighboring provinces.
Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional al-Qaida insurgencies in the Middle East.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known locally as "Ansar al-Sharia," emerged in January 2009, claiming responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against Yemen's army and governmental institutions.
The AQAP and the IS-linked terrorists took advantage of the security vacuum and ongoing civil war to expand their influence and seize more territories in southern Yemen.
Security in Yemen has deteriorated since March 2015, when war broke out between the Shiite Houthi group, supported by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, many of them civilians.