ADEN: Yemeni government forces have sent reinforcements to the Red Sea coast to drive Iran-backed rebels away from a key global shipping route, military officials said on Saturday.
Dhubab, just 30 km from the strategic and busy Bab Al-Mandab strait, links the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Two US warships and an Emirati vessel in the Red Sea came under Houthi missile attacks in September and October.
The government now aims to “push back the rebels away from the western coast and Bab Al-Mandab, and to secure maritime navigation in the southern part of the Red Sea,” a military official said.
Pro-government forces have been sent to the area, backed by tanks, other armored vehicles and Katyusha rocket launchers, military officials said.
They said the offensive aimed to wrest back control of the coast from Dhubab as far north as Al-Khukha 90 km farther north.
Troops were also sent by the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry has expressed concern after the Houthis and their allies formed a new government in a blow to UN-backed efforts to end 20 months of war in the country.
In a statement late on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it supported Yemen’s legal government. “We do not approve of any side in Yemen taking any unilateral actions that complicate the situation, and believe this is not beneficial to a political resolution of the Yemen issue.”
China hopes relevant parties in Yemen continue dialogue to resolve the differences and reach an equitable settlement all sides can accept on the basis of UN resolutions and GCC initiatives, it added.