Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), already in control of the southern port of Mukallah, has expanded its territory again today, with locals reporting that the important Shabwa Province town of Azzan has fallen, and is now flying the AQAP flag.
No fighting was reported in Azzan, which is an important trading post in Shabwa Province, and the local tribal militias simply fled when the AQAP forces showed up, meaning they took the town with no resistance at all.
This isn’t AQAP’s first time controlling Azzan, as they similarly seized the town during the 2012 Arab Spring. The territory grabs recently seem more permanent, however, as amid the heavy fighting between pro-Saudi forces and Shi’ite Houthis, AQAP is being more or less left alone to expand on the margins.
AQAP has also established some limited presence inside the pro-Saudi territory in the south, including at times holding parades in the “temporary” pro-Saudi capital city of Aden. The group is competing with an increasingly aggressive ISIS affiliate, which has no territory in Yemen, but has launched a large number of bombings in recent weeks.