AL-MUKALLA: At least 11 Houthis, including a field military leader, were killed during the last three days in heavy fighting with government forces in flashpoints in Yemen’s western city of Hodeidah, officials told Arab News.
Inspired by their opponents’ sudden withdrawal from a large swath of land in Hodeidah, the Houthis, commanded by Ali Nasser Jahaf, the chief security officer of Hodeidah’s Zabid district, mounted an assault on the Joint Forces in Al-Haima, the loyalists’ last bastion in the province.
Local officials said that the Houthis faced stiff resistance on the ground from the Tehama Resistance and the Giants Brigades and came under heavy aerial bombardment by Arab coalition warplanes. Jahaf was killed in the fighting that subsided on Monday after the Houthis halted their assault.
The Joint Forces on Sunday announced that dozens of Houthis had been killed or wounded and that several armed vehicles and tanks were destroyed in the fighting north of Al-Haima in Khokha district. Yemen’s officials hailed the role of the coalition’s warplanes in stopping Houthi advances in Hodeidah.
“There is great air support from the coalition’s warplanes. Without it, the Houthis would have seized control of Al-Haima,” a local official, who requested anonymity, told Arab News by telephone.
Last week, the Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, abruptly announced withdrawal from several districts in the Hodeidah province, including part of the city of Hodeidah, a step that allowed the Houthis to take over those cities and villages.
Residents told Arab News on Monday that hundreds of families abandoned homes in Hodeidah, fleeing Houthi reprisal attacks and suppression.
The Houthis blew up several houses of local officials and chased many others.
“The displaced people are sleeping rough in Yakhtul and Khokha. No one is helping them,” a resident said.
The Houthis also asked people in the formerly liberated areas to stop using the new banknotes printed in Aden by the Yemeni government and only circulate the old banknotes.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Sunday that initial reports showed that 900 families have taken shelter in Al-Khokha and Mocha.
Also in Hodeidah, the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement on Monday urged warring factions in Hodeidah to engage in talks to frame new arrangements in the province in the wake of the latest withdrawal of forces and to adhere to their previous commitments to protect civilians.
“UNMHA further urges all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians, especially internally displaced persons throughout the Governorate of Hodeidah, and particularly in the south where clashes are being reported,” the UN mission said in a statement.
More than 180 Houthis were killed in battles with government forces or in airstrikes by Arab coalition warplanes outside the central city of Marib during the last 24 hours, a local military official told Arab News on Monday.
Col. Yahiya Al-Hatemi, the director of the Yemeni army’s military media, said that hundreds of Houthis on Sunday attacked government troops in Al-Kasara and Serwah, west of Marib city, in a bid to make a breakthrough after their troops became stuck in a military stalemate south of the city following resistance from army troops and allied tribesmen.
“The Houthis intensified attacks on Marib from the west after failing to make territorial gains in Juba in the south,” Al-Hatemi said, adding that the coalition’s planes targeted gatherings of Houthis who were preparing to attack government forces in Al-Kasara and Serwah, killing at least 180 and wounding many others.
Yemenis on Monday mourned Yasser Al-Awadhi, a senior member of the General People’s Congress and a leader of Al-Awadh tribe, who died of a heart attack in Cairo. Al-Awadhi was a staunch supporter of the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and a tribal leader who led a brief military uprising against the Houthis last year in his home province of Al-Bayda after the Houthis refused to punish fighters who had killed a woman.
He was forced to flee the country after the Houthis defeated his forces. In his sympathy note, Yemen’s Parliament Speaker Sultan Al-Barkani described Al-Awadhi as “a brave fighter, a brilliant parliamentarian and a prominent sheikh.”