AL-MUKALLA: A Yemeni government soldier was killed and two others wounded on Saturday when an explosives-laden drone fired by Iran-backed Houthis attacked a convoy conveying senior military leaders, including Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohsen Al-Daeri, in the besieged city of Taiz, Yemeni officials and local media said.
A Yemeni government official told Arab News that the Houthis launched a drone at a convoy carrying the defense minister, the army’s chief of staff, and the governor of Taiz as they traveled from the Red Sea town of Mocha to Taiz. Al-Daeri and all other government officials were unhurt.
Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s information minister, accused the Houthis of attempting to derail peace attempts.
“This sinful targeting, which comes in the wake of the terrorist Houthi militia’s continuous escalation on multiple fronts, confirms its insistence on sabotaging efforts to restore the ceasefire and calm the situation,” the minister said on Twitter.
Al-Eryani had earlier warned that large-scale military operations would resume throughout the nation if the Houthis continued their assaults on government soldiers, particularly in the central province of Marib.
Scores of fighters have been killed or injured since early last week, when the Houthis began a series of intense assaults on government troops in the district of Hareb, south of Marib province, capturing a few villages.
Those attacks, as well as other less intense shelling and ground attacks in Taiz, have dashed hopes of a peaceful solution to the war, which had arisen following the latest successful round of prisoner-swap talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, which resulted in an agreement to release more than 800 prisoners during Ramadan.
Al-Eryani said Houthi raids in Hareb had resulted in the displacement of a significant number of people and posed the prospect of all-out conflict, which would put an end to the country’s relative peace since the UN-brokered ceasefire came into force in April last year.
Speaking to a group of military personnel in Taiz’s Al-Bareh on Friday, the minister pledged to defeat the Houthis, retake Sanaa and other areas currently controlled by the Iran-backed militias, and urged soldiers to remain alert.
“To reclaim every square inch of our territory, retake our capital, and restore our legitimate leadership to its proper position, we must all share the same spirit and direct our firearms against these militias,” the minister said.
Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Kumaim, a Yemeni military analyst, said the Houthis have used the UN-brokered truce to regroup, and to target military officials and government-controlled areas. He suggested that the Yemeni government should abandon any agreements with the Houthis and resume military operations.
“Following this attack on the convoy of the highest military authority in the Yemeni army, the government is expected to terminate all accords, including the Stockholm Agreement, and unleash the fronts,” Al-Kumaim said.
Since October, the Yemeni government has labeled the Houthis a terrorist organization. It threatened to withdraw from the Stockholm Agreement and other agreements with the Houthis and resume military offensives when the Houthis shelled oil facilities in Hadramout and Shabwa with drones and missiles, halting Yemen’s oil exports.