AL-MUKALLA: Arab coalition warplanes on Wednesday targeted several military locations belonging to the Iran-backed Houthis in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz, residents and government officials said.
Large explosions rocked the densely populated city of Taiz from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Wednesday after missiles fired by the coalition’s warplanes struck the city’s airport, an air defense military base, missile and ammunition silos and other locations controlled by the Houthis on the eastern edges of the city.
Videos on social media show balls of fire and smoke billowing from the targeted locations.
“Based on initial intelligence reports from the ground, the precise airstrikes destroyed large ammunition and missile stores, artillery emplacements, rocket launchers and a command and control room for the Houthis,” Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemen army officer in Taiz, told Arab News by telephone.
He added that the airstrikes on Houthi-controlled military locations in Taiz were the largest in years.
The infrequent airstrikes by the coalition’s warplanes in Taiz over the past couple of years have allowed the Houthis to turn areas under their control in Taiz into launch pads for ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones that targeted Saudi Arabia and government-controlled areas in Yemen, Al-Baher said.
In March 2021, the UN experts found out that some of the missiles that targeted Aden airport on Dec. 30, 2020, shortly after the formation of the new government, were fired by the Houthis from Taiz airport, one of the targets of Wednesday’s airstrikes.
Officials believe that explosive–rigged drones and missiles that killed dozens of Yemeni soldiers at Al-Anad base in Lahj last month were also fired from Houthi-controlled military sites in Taiz.
Al-Baher said the latest round of air raids would impede the Houthis’ ability to launch more deadly strikes from Taiz.
The city of Taiz has been the scene of the fiercest battles between the Yemeni government troops and the Houthis since early 2015.
From their locations on the edges of the city, the Houthis have laid a siege to the city and shelled the centre to weaken the government forces defending the city.
Dozens of combatants have been killed in fierce clashes on several fronts outside the central city of Marib, local military officials said on Wednesday.
Fighting broke out in Al-Mashjah, Al-Kasara, Serwah and Rahabah after the Houthis attacked government troops in another desperate attempt to break through the defenses.
Rashad Al-Mekhlafi, a military official at Yemen’s Armed Forces Guidance Department, said that battles are becoming more aggressive as the Houthis have intensified attacks on government forces despite suffering heavy losses.
He said that the Yemeni army troops and allied tribesmen, backed by the coalition’s air support, managed to repulse Houthi attacks.
“The Houthis are determined to win the battle for Marib before the new UN envoy to Yemen puts forward his plan for ending the war,” Al-Mekhlafi said.
The Houthis, he said, have dispatched their elite military figures, who have been trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards during the past two decades, to Marib to make a military breakthrough that could enable them to seize control of the city, the last government bastion in the north.
The UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg, who took charge on Sunday, began meeting diplomats and officials ahead of his first briefing to the UN Security Council on Friday.
“We discussed opportunities to move the Yemeni #peace process forward and the need for a more inclusive approach. Norway stands ready to support the new special envoy,” Mona Juul, Norway’s ambassador and permanent representative at the UN, said on Twitter on Wednesday after meeting the new envoy.