Yemen army opens up new front in Saada

Aim of the current offensive in Saada is to cut off supply routes between Saada and other provinces

AFPYemeni men stand next to a destroyed car following an air strike on the northwestern Huthi-held Saada province on January 24, 2018. Clashes in the Yemeni rebel heartland of Saada province have killed 40 rebel fighters, Saudi media said, while the rebels reported nine civilians among 22 dead in Saudi-led air strikes./ AFP / STRINGER

Al Mukalla: Yemeni government troops, backed massive air strikes by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets, launched a new offensive in the northern province of Saada, Al Houthi’s main bastion.

Yemen’s Defence Ministry said that government troops launched a fresh incursion into Razah district, south-western Saada, as other loyalists battle Al Houthi militants in the Bouqa and Baqoum regions in the north and east.

During the offensive, government troops liberated a number mountains, a valley, and small villages and stationed almost 4km from the district’s centre.

Brigadier Hamoud Hisham, a field commander on the new front told the army’s official news site that an Al Houthi military leader was killed and another one was arrested in the fighting as his forces were fighting their way into Razah district.

The latest offensive in Saada comes as government forces intensify attacks on the Al Houthi heartland where their leader Abdul Malik Al Houthi is said to be hiding.

Al Houthis also store their main arsenal of heavy arms, ammunition and ballistic missiles in the province, military experts said.

Military commanders say that the aim of the current offensive in Saada is to cut off supply routes between Saada and other provinces and tighten the siege on the city Saada, the capital of Saada province.

By taking control of a strategic road that links Saada with Jawf, government forces could disrupt the flow of arms and fighters from Saada to other fronts south of the province.

Taking advantage of a crumbling alliance between Al Houthis and supporters of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s army escalated military operations against Al Houthis on all fronts.

Al Houthis assassinated Saleh late last year after he announced his plans to break off the alliance.

Meanwhile in the southern province of Taiz, government force took control of Al Hameli region, just north of Khalid Bin Waleed military camp after fierce clashes with Al Houthis.

The military camp fell to government forces in April last year.

Heavy fighting between government forces and Al Houthis also broke out on Thursday in the southern, eastern and northern suburbs of the city of Taiz.

The coalition’s fighter jets killed an Al Houthi military figure called Mohammad Ahmad Al Na’ami and a number of other militants in Medi district, in the northern province of Hajja, the Defence Ministry said.

Thanks to massive military logistics and air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, government forces have managed to turn the tide of the war in their favour and take control of almost 80 per cent of Yemeni territory.

When the Saudi-led coalition launched a massive aerial bombardment against Al Houthis in March 2015, after their coup against the internationally-recognised government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Al Houthis were close to taking control over the entire country.


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