AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s military officials said on Sunday that the Iran-backed Houthis had launched attacks on government troops outside the besieged city of Taiz and fired reconnaissance drones in the last 48 hours, the latest in a series of Houthi military efforts to make headway toward the city’s downtown.
Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni military official in Taiz, told Arab News that the Houthis had targeted Yemeni army positions on the city’s eastern, northeastern, and western outskirts with mortar bombs and heavy machine guns.
“The Houthis were unable to accomplish their objective of capturing new areas in Taiz,” Al-Baher said.
In addition to trying to seize control of new areas, he continued, the Houthis have also attempted to test the Yemeni government forces’ defenses, firepower, and manpower, as well as seize control of a rough road that connects Taiz to the rest of the world.
“They are trying to achieve a military victory that will strengthen their political standing and tighten their siege of Taiz,” Al-Baher said.
On Sunday, the army’s air defense opened fire on a Houthi reconnaissance drone that was soaring over the government-controlled territory west of Taiz.
Yemeni army officials believe that the escalating Houthi attacks, the deployment of new forces outside of Taiz, and the use of reconnaissance drones indicate that the militia is preparing a major military offensive to recapture Taiz from government forces.
The Houthis have laid siege to the densely populated city of Taiz after confronting stiff resistance from army troops and allied forces defending the city’s entrances.
They have stopped people from entering or leaving the city, as well as crucial humanitarian aid and products from passing through their checkpoints, forcing residents to utilize perilous and muddy roads to escape the siege.
Shoura Council Speaker Ahmed Obaid bin Dagher criticized the Houthis on Sunday for refusing to lift their siege on Taiz, release captives, and accept peace overtures to end the war.
During a meeting in Cairo, Bin Dagher told Hayashi Katsuyoshi, the special assistant to Japan’s foreign minister, that the Houthis have violated the UN-brokered ceasefire, derailed international peace efforts in Yemen, and bolstered their forces on the battlefield, and that the Yemeni government is willing to engage in dialogue with the Houthis to achieve a lasting peace in Yemen.
Yemen’s official news agency SABA cited the Japanese official as expressing his government’s support for the Yemeni government and the UN-led peace efforts, while also emphasizing the importance of ending the war through peaceful means.