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Government vows to free ‘every inch’ of Yemen

Coalition-supported forces push against Al Houthis in Hodeida

Gulf News

Cairo: Yemen’s government will liberate “every inch” of the country from Iran-allied Al Houthi militants, Vice-President Ali Moshen Al Ahmar has said.

Supported by a Saudi-led coalition, Yemeni government forces have intensified their military campaign against Al Houthis this week after the collapse of UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva.

Gen. Al Ahmar added that the internationally recognised government is pressing ahead with the liberation process “until the state’s control is imposed on every inch of Yemen”.

He made the remarks during a meeting in Riyadh with commander of the First Border Guard Brigade Haikal Mohammad, who briefed the vice-president on the progress of the military campaign against Al Houthis, Yemen’s official news agency Saba reported.

In September 2014, Al Houthis overran the Yemeni capital Sana’a in a coup against the government.

In March 2015, an Arab coalition intervened in Yemen at a request from the government against Al Houthis after the militants advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the country after their takeover of Sana’a.

Over the past few days, the government loyalists, supported by the coalition, have closed in on the Red Sea city of Hodeida and its crucial harbour.

The Yemeni army has pushed against Al Houthis in the district of Kilo 16, seen as a gateway to Hodeida, military sources said on Tuesday. Troops overran fortified positions of Al Houthis in the area, which came under the full control of the government forces earlier this week, the sources added.

Kilo 16 is strategically important because it links Hodeida to rebel-held Sana’a. The complete control of Kilo 16 will allow government forces to cut off a main rebel supply road from Sana’a and forge ahead towards Hodeida.

In June, government forces, backed by coalition air power, unleashed a major offensive to expel Al Houthis from Hodeida in western Yemen. The campaign was temporarily halted in support of UN envoy Martin Griffiths’ efforts to revive Yemen’s long-stalled peace process and to induce the extremists to peacefully withdraw from the city. Griffiths’ bid suffered a huge blow when Al Houthis stayed away from the Geneva consultations, which were scheduled for September 6. The Iran-aligned extremists had earlier refused to hand over Hodeida and its seaport.

The non-start of the talks re-ignited military escalation in Yemen’s war.

Coalition jets had carried out a series of strikes against Al Houthi fighters in the central province of Ma’rib, the news portal September Net linked to the Yemeni Defence Ministry reported on Tuesday.

The strikes targeted Al Houthi reinforcements in the district of Sirwah, west of Ma’rib. An unspecified number of the militiamen were killed or injured in the bombing that also destroyed their military vehicles, according to the report.

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