AL-MUKALLAH: Yemeni troops on Sunday pushed deeper into Houthi-controlled territory in the provinces of Taiz and Hodeidah, seizing control of mountains, villages and roads, according to local officials and media.
The Joint Forces announced seizing control of Al-Maghareb and Mehwar Al-Abed mountains in the Jabal Ras district in Hodeidah, and the mountains of Al-Rouenah, Al-Souhrah, Tour and other mountainous terrains in the Maqbanah district in Taiz province.
They also took control of a number of valleys east of Hays district, a day after gaining control over the town of Hays and neighboring areas in Hodeidah province.
Troops were seen retrieving military equipment, vehicles and ammunition that had been abandoned by fleeing Houthi fighters.
Video footage broadcast by media showed the bodies of dead fighters on the battlefields, as engineers worked on defusing landmines planted by the militia.
Officials visited liberated locations in Hays, where they pledged support to the locals and vowed to press ahead until the Houthis were defeated.
Media reported that the Houthis had sent military reinforcements, including dozens of armed vehicles and hundreds of fighters, to push back the Joint Forces in Hodeidah and Taiz.
“We are ready for the Houthi counterattacks,” a military official from the Joint Forces’ Giants Brigades told Arab News.
On Sunday, the Houthis mourned Brig. Mohammed Abdullah Abu Taleb, the commander of Houthi Preventive Security in Hodeidah, who was among several fighters killed in an Arab coalition airstrike in Hays district on Saturday as they fought the advancing Joint Forces, Al-Masdar Online reported.
The Houthis arranged funeral processions in Sanaa and other Yemeni provinces under their control for 40 fighters killed in fighting with troops and in coalition airstrikes.
As part of a new military strategy sponsored by the Arab coalition in Yemen, the Joint Forces on Nov. 13 announced withdrawing from more than 80km of areas on the Red Sea in Hodeidah province, including part of Hodeidah city, that are included in a truce under the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement.
On Friday, the Joint Forces launched a new offensive targeting the Houthis in strategic highlands between Hodeidah and Taiz.
Heavy fighting between troops and the Houthis was reported in different locations in the central province of Marib, where the militia is pushing to advance toward the province’s capital, Marib city.
The fiercest battles occurred in Juba district, south of Marib, where troops scored limited advances after killing and wounding dozens of Houthis.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak on Sunday warned that the Houthi invasion of the city of Marib would herald the end of the political process in Yemen and efforts to end the war. It could also trigger a humanitarian crisis as severe as the collapse of Marib’s dam in ancient times that wiped out the kingdom of Sheba, he said.
“The repercussions of the fall of Marib will not only represent the creation of a horrific humanitarian situation, but will also mark the end of the political and peace process in Yemen,” the minister told the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain.