AL-MUKALLAH: Heavy fighting between government troops and Iran-backed Houthis broke out early on Saturday at flashpoint sites in the northern province of Hajjah, Yemen’s Defense Ministry said.
Houthi counterattacks on government forces in the Abes and Haradh districts sparked fierce clashes that left dozens dead or wounded on both sides.
The latest Houthi attacks are part of continuing efforts by the militia to retake strategic sites in the two districts controlled by government troops.
Major military reinforcements from Saada, the Houthis’ heartland, and the other areas under the militia’s control arrived in Haradh and Abes last week as the rebels prepared to launch their latest strike against government troops.
The Defense Ministry said that government troops repulsed the Houthi attacks, killing and wounding dozens of fighters.
Mahfouz Dael, a petroleum engineer who had returned to Yemen from abroad to see his family, was killed while entering his house after being targeted by a Houthi sniper stationed on a hillside.
Intense air raids by the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen struck the militia’s locations, military vehicles and deployments of fighters.
The coalition said on Saturday that it carried out 17 airstrikes in the provinces of Hajjah and Marib that killed many Houthis and destroyed 11 military vehicles in the past 24 hours.
The latest round of fighting in Hajjah began early last month when government forces mounted an offensive to take control of the city of Haradh and surrounding areas close to the border with Saudi Arabia.
Clashes between government troops and rebel fighters on Saturday took place in contested areas south of the central city of Marib, local media reports said.
The Houthis have intensified attacks on Marib from the south after failing to breach government defenses to the north and west of the strategic city.
Rebel fighters have been attacking the city, the government’s last major bastion in the northern half of the country, since earlier last year in a bid to take full control of Marib province, along with its oil and gas fields and a power station.
Yemeni officials and human rights activists condemned the Houthis for targeting civilians after a young engineer was shot and killed in the densely populated city of Taiz.
Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a military officer, told Arab News on Saturday that Mahfouz Dael was hit by a sniper’s bullet outside his house in Al-Osifra, north of Taiz.
Dael, a petroleum engineer who had returned to Yemen from abroad to see his family, was killed while entering his house after being targeted by a Houthi sniper stationed on a hillside outside the city, Al-Baher said.
“He was an unarmed civilian, wearing a suit with a tie, who was killed on his doorstep while entering the house to greet his parents,” Al-Baher said.