Militants loyal to Yemen’s exiled government said on Monday they were set to launch an onslaught to “liberate” the southern city of Aden from Houthi rebels, one day after anti-Houthi forces, backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, restored a strategic village in central Yemen.
Forces loyal to internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, known as the southern Popular Resistance, fired mortars and Katyusha rockets at the village of Amran on Sunday, a Houthi stronghold which lies to the north of the strategic Aden governorate.
The attack on the village comes as part of a larger campaign to “completely liberate” Aden from Houthi rebels, a senior member of the southern Popular Resistance told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Abu Mohamed Al-Adeni said Houthi rebels fled the village following the attack which was carried out in coordination with the Saudi-led coalition.
The capture of the village has prevented Houthis from advancing towards the strategic Al-Mansura district in Aden governorate.
Yemen descended into crisis after Houthi militants, backed by Iran, overran the capital Sana’a in September, prompting the internationally recognized President Hadi to flee to Aden and then to the Saudi capital Riyadh.
In response to a call for intervention by Hadi, Saudi Arabia began an aerial campaign in Yemen in late March to drive back the Houthis and restore the beleaguered president to power.
A coalition of mainly civilian volunteers, known as the Popular Resistance force, have engaged the Houthis on the ground.
“The southern Popular Resistance and the coalition command have agreed to coordinate targets and plans in the near future,” he said.
The shift in strategy, Adeni said, would allow the anti-Houthi resistance to rearrange its ranks and recruit more volunteers. It would also improve the performance of pro-Hadi fighters on the ground, he added.
Meanwhile, the southern resistance force has increased readiness within its ranks in anticipation of any attacks by the Houthis.
Coalition warplanes flew 12 sorties over Amran and around 100 armored vehicles, provided by the UAE, took part in the attack on Sunday, he said.
Pro-Hadi forces have seized 23 military vehicles that belonged to the Houthis and took control of a weapons depot inside the village, a spokesman for the popular resistance said. Several Houthi fighters have been arrested.
On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was “very much disappointed” by Yemen’s failed truce, his spokesman said, but he still hoped that fighting would cease.
Fighting erupted in Yemen early on Saturday, breaking the UN-sponsored truce that was supposed to last until the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
Yemen’s exiled government accused the Iran-backed group of committing “massacres” in the early hours of Saturday.
By Sa'ed Al-Abyadh and Arafat Madabish
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