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Yemeni Army Seizes Control of Key Houthi Locations

Published January 27th, 2018 - 08:37 GMT
Saudi soldiers stand by as a Saudi Air Force cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid lands at an airfield in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib. (ABDULLAH AL-QADRY / AFP)
Saudi soldiers stand by as a Saudi Air Force cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid lands at an airfield in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib. (ABDULLAH AL-QADRY / AFP)

Yemeni army troops seized control of several locations in the southern city of Taiz on the second day of an offensive designed to break the Houthi siege on Yemen’s third largest city.

Local army commanders said on Saturday that government troops, backed by massive air cover from Saudi-led coalition fighter jets, stormed a number of villages, mountainous locations and large parts of the northern, southern, western and eastern suburbs of the city.

“This is a comprehensive and continuous operation aimed at putting an end to the Houthi siege and shelling of the city,” Colonel Abdul Basit Al Bahar, the deputy spokesperson for Yemen’s army in Taiz, said.

The current offensive began on Friday when hundreds of government troops simultaneously attacked Al Houthi militants on the city’s outskirts. The coalition’s fighter jets undertook dozens of sorties on Friday and Saturday, striking Houthi locations, paving the way for ground forces to advance.

Al Bahar said government forces focused on cutting off supply routes from other provinces to Houthis in Taiz. For instance, on the northern edges of the city, government forces stormed Al Wa’aesh mountain range that overlooks a strategic road linking Taiz city to the Houthi-held Ibb province.

Other forces engaged in fierce clashes with Houthis on a mountain range that overlooks another road on the western edges connecting Taiz to Hodeida.

“If the national army troops gain control of these two roads, the Al Houthi militia would not be able to replace their depleting forces in Taiz,” Al Bahar said.

Dozens of Houthi militants have been killed or captured during the heavy fighting, the Defence Ministry said. As their forces suffered setbacks on the battlefield, Al Houthis responded by heavy shelling of residential areas in the city’s downtown, killing several civilians and injuring dozens more, residents said.

The state-run Saba news agency said that Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi instructed his forces to intensify attacks on Houthis until they exit the city. Meanwhile, on the Red Sea front, government forces booted Houthis out from large farms on the outskirts of Hays in the province of Hodeida and reached several kilometres from the town’s centre on Saturday.

The troops, with the support of the UAE Armed Forces, launched the surprise attack on Friday liberating a number of villages and areas. Government forces announced liberating almost 20 kilometres of land outside Hays and are closing in on the city after clearing landmines, local commanders said.

If government forces take Hays, it will mark another major victory in the current offensive on the Red Sea coast and would put loyalists closer to Hodeida city, the last major coastal city under Houthi control and the ultimate objective of the offensive.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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