AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government troops drove into Houthi-controlled areas south of the central city of Marib on Tuesday for the first time in months, a day after fully recapturing the strategic province of Shabwa from the Iran-backed militia.
In the wake of the victory in Shabwa, the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen launched a new military operation to liberate the whole country from the Houthis.
On a visit to Shabwa, coalition spokesman Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said the operation aimed to “purify Yemen” and establish safety, security, prosperity, and growth.
“Yemen deserves a lot in all areas,” Al-Maliki said in a joint press conference with the province’s governor, Awadh bin Al-Wazer.
Fighters from the loyalist Giants Brigades seized control of substantial territory on Tuesday in the district of Hareb in Marib province.
The Houthis had seized control of Hareb, Al-Abedia and parts of Juba districts in September last year after making rapid progress in the neighboring provinces of Al-Bayda and Shabwa.
But government forces have taken the offensive on the battlefield since the beginning of this month after the coalition redeployed several military brigades from the west coast to Shabwa.
Governor Awadh bin Al-Wazer declared Shabwa fully liberated on Monday after the Houthis were driven out of Ain district, their last pocket of land. He thanked “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE for all the generous support and efforts made to achieve this victory.”
Coalition warplanes have intensified strikes over the past 10 days, targeting Houthi-controlled cities, including Sanaa, and the militia’s reinforcements across the country. The airstrikes have paved the way for government troops to advance in Shabwa, Marib and Al-Bayda.
Mohammed Al-Jaber, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen, said Yemenis could end the Houthi coup and restore the state and peace to their country when they came together.
“The consensus and the unification of the ranks of the Yemeni forces would lead to the restoration of the state, peace and constructive dialogue on all issues,” he said.
Experts believe more coalition military success will force the Houthis into accepting peace efforts, and end the war.
“Any military action that forces the Houthis to retreat will eventually lead to de-escalation,” Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a Yemeni conflict analyst, told Arab News.
She called for the unification of Yemeni forces under one command to launch coordinated attacks on the Houthis. “Without a consistent military offensive in which all frontlines are coordinated, we will continue in this vicious cycle,” she said.
“Shabwa cannot be safe if Marib is not safe and Marib is not safe if Al-Jawf and Al-Bayda are not liberated.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the coalition announced that more than 350 Houthis had been killed in various operations in Yemen.
In oil-rich Marib province, more than 120 Houthi fighters were killed and 14 military vehicles destroyed in operations over the last 24 hours.
The coalition also carried out strikes in the southern province of Shabwa which resulted in the deaths of over 230 Houthis and the destruction of 25 military vehicles.