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Al Houthi attack foiled in North Yemen

Pause in Hodeida campaign only temporary, says Saudi envoy

Gulf News

Cairo: Yemeni government forces had foiled an attack by Al Houthis in the north and killed at least 15 of them, a military official said on Thursday.

The attack by the Iran-allied militants was aimed at retaking some positions seized by the government forces in recent weeks in the northern part of the province of Saada, Brigadier Yasser Mejali, the commander of the Infantry 53 Brigade, said.

“This assault came after the progress made by the National Army troops,” he added, according to pro-government news site Adan Al Ghad.

The clashes between both sides in the area coincided with air strikes by a Saudi-led Arab Coalition against Al Houthi positions in the district of Baqim in Saada’s north-western section.

The Arab Coalition has dispatched military reinforcements to support the government forces’ push into Saada, the stronghold of Al Houthis near the Saudi border.

The government forces, backed by coalition jets, have recently launched a multi-front campaign against Al Houthis in Yemen.

Last month, the pro-government forces unleashed an onslaught to liberate the western city of Hodeida and its crucial port from Al Houthis.

The coalition jets bombarded gatherings of the armed extremists near Al Tahita district on the southern edges of Hodeida, a military source said on Thursday. At least 30 Al Houthis, including two local commanders, were killed in the bombing, the source added, according to Dubai-based television Al Arabiya.

The strikes were carried out amid fight between government forces and the militants in the vicinity of the ancient town of Zabid, adjacent to Al Tahita that Yemeni troops captured from Al Houthis days ago.

The Hodeida offensive, which started on June 13, is the largest in Yemen’s three-year war. The coalition later suspended the battle in support of hitherto unsuccessful UN efforts to revive long-stalled peace talks between the warring sides.

The pause in military operations is temporary, Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdullah Al Mouallimi told Al Arabiya.

“The current halt is temporary and is aimed at allowing for diplomatic efforts to ensure the peaceful handover of the [Hodeida] city,” he added.

In recent weeks, UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has intensified his efforts to head off an all-out battle in Hodeida and restart talks between the government and Al Houthis.

“Until this moment, I don’t think Griffiths has been able to make a breakthrough with the coup plotters [Al Houthis],” Al Mouallimi added. “I think they are procrastinating and using the international mediator to prolong the process. This matter cannot be accepted for long.”

In late 2014, Al Houthis staged a coup against Yemen’s internationally recognised government and overran the capital Sana’a and other territory in Yemen, including Hodeida.

In recent months, Al Houthis have launched a series of missiles into Saudi Arabia.