Elite pro-Saleh forces defect from Al Houthis

Coalition has called on pro-Saleh troops to throw their weight behind anti-Al Houthi forces

Image Credit: WAM


Brigadier-General Abdul Salam Al Shehi

Al Mukalla: The Saudi-led coalition has said some soldiers from the Republican Guard — an elite Yemeni unit set up by late former president Ali Abdullah Saleh — had switched sides and begun helping the coalition and pro-government fighters on the ground.

Brigadier General Abdul Salam Al Shehi, the commander of the Saudi-led coalition forces on the Red Sea front, said the Saudi-led coalition welcomed a proposal from some Republican Guard forces, who defected from Al Houthis, to help in fighting their former allies.

“There is cooperation with Republican Guards [forces] who took the initiative [to fight Al Houthis],” Al Shehi said in a brief video statement carried by WAM.

The coalition and the internationally-recognised government of Yemen have called on pro-Saleh troops, mainly the Republic Guards, to throw their weight behind anti-Al Houthi forces. The pro-Saleh forces include thousands of highly trained soldiers, and military experts believe their defection would accelerate the defeat of Al Houthi forces in northern Yemen.

Al Shehi, who was apparently speaking from the newly liberated areas in the province of Hodeida, in western Yemen, said the Saudi-led coalition is determined to defeat the Iran-backed Al Houthis, and that the Emirati, Sudanese and Yemeni forces are making rapid gains on the Red Sea battlefield. “The Saudi-led coalition is determined to liberate Yemeni land from the Iran-backed Al Houthi militants,” he said, adding that Al Houthi lines of defence are crumbling in the face of the current assault on the Red Sea area as hundreds of their militants have been killed or captured during the fighting. Al Shehi’s statement confirms the active participation of the UAE military forces on the ground in Hodeida province.

Last week, government forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, pushed Al Houthis from a large swathe of land in Hodeida province, including a military camp, and Khokha region.

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