ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni government forces launched on Monday a new military operation against hideouts of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch in the southeastern province of Shabwa, a military official told Xinhua.
The anti-terror campaign was dubbed "Operation Decisive Sword," targeting key al-Qaida-held areas in Shabwa province, the military source said on condition of anonymity.
He said that the newly-recruited forces in Shabwa largely participated in the anti-terror operation and engaged in armed confrontations with al-Qaida militants in Yashbum area.
The United Arab Emirates organized the military campaign in addition to using its military vehicles and helicopters to support the Yemeni troops, according to the local officials.
Tribal sources in Shabwa said that al-Qaida militants launched an attack against the UAE-backed Yemeni troops in an attempt to impede the on-ground progress.
Witnesses said the Yemeni soldiers were deployed around the main entrances leading to the al-Qaida-held areas amid sporadic fighting with the militants there.
There were no immediate reports of the exact number of casualties from the two-warring sides.
On Friday, the Yemeni government forces backed by the UAE took over a strategic valley in the southeastern province of Hadramout, kicking scores of terrorists out from their last bastion after several days of fighting.
Observers said that the latest anti-terror operations supported by the UAE resulted in killing key local commanders of the terrorist group, pointing out that the remaining militants are unlikely to launch any attack against the Yemeni forces.
Local activists published on their social media networks images of scattered bodies, saying they belong to terrorists who have been killed during the fighting with the Yemeni troops in Hadramout.
Al-Qaida militants are intensifying their drive-by attacks on security checkpoints in the Yemeni southern provinces as UAE-backed government forces increase military operations against their hideouts in the war-plagued Arab country.
During the past months, Yemeni government forces and the UAE armed forces operating in the southern province of Aden launched a new anti-terror offensive "to root out al-Qaida militants from their strongholds in neighboring southern province of Abyan."
Thousands of southern recruits joined the campaign after receiving military training and financial support from the UAE forces.
The UAE-backed anti-terror campaign has dislodged al-Qaida militants from several villages in Abyan and in the neighboring southeastern province of Shabwa, with more than 50 of them arrested and moved to prisons in Aden.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in Shabwa and Abyan provinces.