AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni troops and allied tribesmen have stormed and captured the strategic Al-Khanjer military base and surrounding areas in the northern province of Jouf.
The operation, supported by Saudi-led Arab coalition warplanes, is a heavy blow to Iran-backed Houthi militias and their control of much of northern Yemen, the army said.
The offensive followed several weeks of intensive fighting in the area. “This is a great victory. By seizing control of Al-Khanjer, the national army has secured a road between Marib and Joutema in Jouf,” said Rabia Al-Qurashi, the Yemeni army spokesman in the province.
Army commanders who led the operation said the coalition had carried out precise airstrikes that destroyed Houthi military positions and equipment, paving the way for government forces to storm the base and the other liberated areas in the province. Dozens of Houthis were killed or wounded in the fighting, they said.
Ssenior government officials called army commanders and tribal leaders on the ground in the province to congratulate them on the operation’s success. Vice
President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer ordered troops to keep up fighting until they expel Houthis from all areas under their control in the province,
The acting commander of the 3rd Military Region, Maj. Gen. Nasser Al-Thaybani, said forces from the 3rd and 6th Military Regions were continuing military operations against the Houthis in Jouf, and that the Houthis had suffered heavy defeats and lost dozens of their fighters.
Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, Yemen’s former prime minister and a senior adviser to the president, said that the new military gains by government forces showed that they and their allied tribesmen had taken the initiative on the battlefield and switched from a defense stance to an offensive one.
“Marib’s resistance and the march in Jouf will determine the future of the fighting with the Houthis,” he said, predicting a “strategic shift” in the war.
In the western province of Hodeidah, fighting continued on Wednesday on the outskirts of Hodeidah city and two other districts. Artillery shells fired by the Houthis burned three stores attached to a dairy and food products factory in government-controlled areas of the city. “The fire is still ravaging the stores now,“ a local military officer told Arab News on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Houthi military commander Sheikh Addin Abu Al-Nour and five of his associates were killed in fighting with government forces in the northwest town of Hays.