AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s army on Wednesday announced it had partially broken a six-year siege of the southern city of Taiz by the Iran-backed Houthis.
Spokesman Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher told Arab News that troops had seized control of several mountain locations on the western edges of the city and reopened a road to western areas on the Red Sea.
For the first time in years, soldiers from the Taiz axis met other government troops from the Giants Brigades (military unit fighting for the government) in a liberated area in Al-Wazyia after breaking the last Houthi line of defense that had long-separated them.
“This is an important development since it not only breaks the siege but unifies the fronts against our common enemy,” Al-Baher said, adding that troops were currently consolidating gains in Al-Wazyia as other forces pushed toward Al-Bareh.
If the advances continued at the same speed, government troops would be able to open another strategic road linking the city with Hodeidah and other Red Sea coastal areas, Al-Baher said.
Since early last week, Yemeni troops in Taiz have broken months of military stalemate in the city by launching a new offensive to push back the Houthis from the city’s fringes and break the rebels’ siege.
The army took over control of Jabal Habashy district and several strategic locations on the eastern and western edges of Taiz after killing and wounding dozens of Houthis.
State TV media showed images of soldiers retrieving tanks, armored personnel carriers, and rocket launchers abandoned by the defeated Houthis.
Al-Baher said a group of Houthi fighters, along with their leader, surrendered to the army as many others fled the battlefields.
Yemeni army commanders attributed Houthi setbacks in Taiz to long attrition by army troops and the rebels’ mobilization of their highly trained military units in the central province of Marib.
The official news agency said Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, during a telephone conversation with Taiz Gov. Nabil Shamsan, ordered his troops in Taiz to press ahead with their military offensive until the Houthi siege had been ended.
After failing to seize control of the city’s downtown during early military expansion across Yemen in 2015, the Houthis surrounded the densely populated city, blocking vital food and medical supply lines. The militia group has repeatedly shelled residential areas in Taiz, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians over the last six years.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said that army troops and allied tribesmen scored limited military gains on different fronts in the province of Marib.
The army seized control of a mountain in Al-Kasara, west of Marib, after killing, wounding, and capturing dozens of Houthis.
In other contested areas in Marib such as Murad, Serwah, and Helan, government troops took defensive positions, focusing on pushing back Houthis as warplanes from the Arab coalition targeted Houthi military reinforcements and locations.
Hadi called Yemini defense minister, Mohammed Al-Maqdashi, to congratulate government troops on their gains and repeated his order to the army to foil “Iran’s scheme and its tools” in Yemen.