Yemen Army foils Houthi attempt to take over Taiz

The city of Taiz has seen the bloodiest battles between government forces and the militias since early 2015. (AFP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Yemen Army foils Houthi attempt to take over Taiz

  • Several Iranian-backed militants killed while trying to lay siege on city

AL-MUKALLA: Dozens of Houthi militants have been killed in Yemen’s southern city of Taiz as the Iran-backed militias push to break army’s lines of defenses and to reimpose their siege on the city, an army spokesperson told Arab News on Wednesday.

Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher said attacks on government forces on all fronts around the city had escalated in an attempt to make a major breakthrough.

“The national army has foiled all attempts to make gains,” Al-Baher said, adding that loyalist forces had also shelled a Houthi training camp in the west of the city.

The city of Taiz has seen the bloodiest battles between government forces and the militias since early 2015, when the rebels moved a large number of forces from Sanaa to bring the city under their control. 

Despite their numerical advantage, the Houthis failed to push into the city’s downtown area, limiting them to the outskirts where they imposed a siege that brought Taiz to the edge of starvation.

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Despite their numerical advantage, the Houthis failed to push into the city’s downtown area, limiting them to the outskirts where they imposed a siege that brought Taiz to the edge of starvation.

Government forces have managed to recapture the western edge of the city and reopened a strategic road that linked the city with the southern port of Aden, which enabled the government to funnel vital humanitarian and military supplies to the city’s inhabitants.

Al-Baher said the Houthis had launched simultaneous attacks on the edges of the city for the first time in months.

“Their recent attacks have focused on all fronts around the city,” he said, adding that at least 59 Houthis and nine loyalists were killed in the latest clashes. Al-Baher also said that if the Houthis successfully laid siege again, it would put the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk.

In the southern province of Abyan, a government soldier was killed and several others injured when missiles fired by militiamen exploded inside their military base in the district of Lawder on Tuesday, local media said.

Fighting was also reported in the northern province of Jawf, where government forces attacked Houthi positions under air cover from the Saudi-led coalition.

Hospitals attacked

Local health authorities in the province of Marib have said that three health facilities, out of the region’s 12, had been completely destroyed by Houthi shelling over the last five years.

The remaining nine facilities had all been damaged by fighting, and seven health workers had been killed in different districts in Marib, according to the provincial office of the Ministry of Health.

Houthi missile and mortar fire has killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers in Marib over the last several months.


French FM urges Iraq to keep away from regional tensions

Updated 2 min 31 sec ago

French FM urges Iraq to keep away from regional tensions

BAGHDAD: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Baghdad on Thursday to “dissociate” itself from boiling regional tensions, hinting at dissatisfaction with unilateral Iranian and American strikes on Iraqi territory.
Iraq has been caught for years in the power struggle between its two main allies Washington and Tehran, but has had to walk an increasingly fine line since 2018, when the US began a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
In January, a US drone strike on Baghdad killed top Iranian and Iraqi officials, and Tehran retaliated with strikes against American troops based in western Iraq.
Baghdad “should dissociate itself from regional tensions,” Le Drian warned after meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.
France has been a top member of the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, which Iraq declared defeated in late 2017 after three years of warfare.
“The world should not drop its guard against the Daesh group,” Le Drian said.
“The coalition’s aim at its core is to fight IS, and it should for no reason be derailed from this central mission,” he added.
His comments appeared to hint at widespread frustration among Western diplomats at Washington’s unilateral strikes against Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq.
They fear that these attacks would prompt a backlash against the coalition as a whole, not just US soldiers.
Following the US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in January, Iraq’s parliament voted to oust all foreign troops.
Le Drian is the first Western diplomat to visit Baghdad since Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi took office in May, although he has traveled to Iraq on many occasions.
He is also expected to meet Al-Kadhimi and Iraqi President Barham Saleh on his one-day visit.
He said France “backed (Al-Kadhimi’s) first decisions,” including efforts to fight government corruption and rein in rogue groups firing rockets at foreign troops and diplomats.
France would also facilitate $1.1 billion for “major projects in construction, transportation, energy and water,” Le Drian announced.
Iraq’s public infrastructure has been worn down by years of warfare and poor investment, but low oil prices have forced it to cut state spending on improving services.