Yemen: Over 100 killed in Taiz clashes as government forces break rebel siege

Published March 12th, 2016 - 02:00 GMT
Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, hold a position during clashes with Houthi rebels in the central city of Taiz, on March 11, 2016. (AFP/Ahmad al-Basha)
Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, hold a position during clashes with Houthi rebels in the central city of Taiz, on March 11, 2016. (AFP/Ahmad al-Basha)

Fighting raged in Yemen's rebel-besieged city of Taiz over the past 24 hours, as pro-government forces advanced and broke rebel siege on the city and over 100 people were killed in the clashes, officials said on Saturday.

"We announce that our forces on Friday night broke the rebel siege on southwestern areas of Taiz after beating the Shia Houthi rebels and their allies loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh," read a brief statement by the government army and local resistance unit.

The advance of the forces loyal to the internationally recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was backed by warplanes from the mostly Arab coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia.

Medical officials said more than 100 fighters were killed from both sides during the past 24 hours only, mostly from Houthi rebels who were hit by Saudi-led airstrikes.

The battles began three days ago, but Hadi forces managed to retake Almisrakh and Alakroudh districts on the southwest of Taiz, and controlling Al-Dehi crossing road and recapturing the old airport and the 35th military brigade camp during the fighting on Friday and overnight, according to loyal officials.

"Now roads were secured and open for humanitarian aids to enter the city," the loyal army statement added.

Government officials said the next round of battles would take place in southeast the city, where the republican palace, central security camp and Taiz international airport are still under the rebel control.

here was no immediate official comment from the Houthi group, but pro-rebels activists said it was a "tactical withdrawal."

Taiz, Yemen's third largest city located in southwest the country between the rebel-held capital Sanaa and southern port city of Aden, now the temporary capital after Saudi-backed loyal forces recaptured it in July last year.

The city of nearly 200,000 population has been under the rebel siege for over a year now. But It has still now under partial control of the rebels who are stationing in north, east and southeast of Taiz, controlling those entrances.

The new development on the ground came as Saudi Arabia, which led Arab coalition against the Iran-allied Houthi and Saleh forces, has reached this week a truce deal with the Houthi group to secure the shared borders between the two countries and to secure delivering aids to the damaged areas near the Yemeni-Saudi border.

The truce deal, which was mediated by Oman according to officials close to the Houthigroup, was implemented on the Yemeni-Saudi shared border only and has nothing to do with President Hadi's government army.

The Saudi-led coalition started daily air bombing on the Houthi rebels and their allied forces since March 2015, vowing to drive out the rebels and retrieve Sanaa, the capital.

Yemen has been mired in an all-out civil war since September 2014, when the Shia Houthi group backed by forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh invaded the capital Sanaa and drove President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile. The war has killed nearly 6,000 people, mostly civilians. 


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