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Coalition steps up attacks in Hodeida

Yemeni forces kill 8 Al Qaida militants in raid near Al Bayda

Gulf News

Cairo: Jets of the Arab coalition fighting Al Houthis in Yemen killed several members of the Iran-allied militia on Sunday in strikes in the western province of Hodeida, field sources said.

The overnight bombing targeted gatherings of Al Houthi militiamen around the southern district of Kilo 16 that government forces retook from the rebels last week, the sources told Sky News Arabia.

The strikes were carried out hours after the Saudi-led coalition targeted senior militia leaders in a “qualitative” operation in Hodeida, the television added.

Hodeida is strategically important because it has a harbour, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, as most of the commercial imports and relief supplies enter Yemen through it.

In the past two weeks, government loyalists, supported by the coalition air power, unleashed a new offensive in the rebel-controlled Hodeida after Al Houthis failed to appear in Switzerland for UN-sponsored peace talks.

Yemeni forces are amassing around the Red Sea city in preparation for a major onslaught to liberate Hodeida and its crucial port from Al Houthis.

The coalition accuses Al Houthis of taking advantage of their control of Hodeida port to obtain weapons from their Iranian patrons as well as confiscate aid intended for Yemenis in order to sustain their war effort.

In June, government forces, backed by the coalition, started a major offensive to expel Al Houthis from Hodeida.

The campaign was temporarily halted in support of UN efforts to revive Yemen’s long-stalemated peace process.

The coalition has targeted other radical groups in Yemen, including Al Qaida.

Elite troops, supported by the UAE, killed eight Al Qaida operatives, including a local commander, in a raid on their camp near the central province of Al Bayda, Yemen’s news portal Al Ghad reported.

Three government soldiers were also killed in the raid mounted in the Wadi Khura, according to the report.

The elite unit said in a Facebook post its forces had destroyed the militants’ camp and seized a cache of weapons in the Saturday swoop.

Al Qaida in the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP), a dangerous branch of the radical organisation, took advantage of the chaos triggered by Al Houthis’ takeover in late 2014 to expand its presence in Yemen. AQAP has suffered military setbacks by the coalition in recent months.

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