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Yemen army closes in on Hodeida’s Al Jarrahi

Woman and child killed on Friday when rocket fired by Al Houthis hit their house in Taiz

Gulf News

Al Mukalla: Almost a week after consolidating their control over the town of Hays, government troops, backed by the UAE Armed Forces, ousted the Iran-backed Al Houthis from the outskirts of Al Jarrahi town in Yemen’s western province of Hodeida.

Abdul Raham Al Hajeri, a field commander on the Red Sea front, told Gulf News government forces had advanced towards Al Jarrahi after restoring a semblance of security in Hays town, and clearing scattered villages on the road to Al Jarrahi of Al Houthis. “Fighting [is raging] on the outskirts of Al Jarrahi. We have to overcome some obstacles before storming the town,” Al Hajeri said.

Last week, government forces seized control of Hays, a strategic town linking Hodeida with Taiz and Ibb, and its surrounding areas. The current military operations along Yemen’s long western coast are part of a major offensive that began early last year, aimed at cutting off offshore smuggling routes and securing the strategic Bab Al Mandab Strait. The final phase of the offensive will see the liberation of the city of Hodeida, which, along with the surrounding towns, is the last coastal area under Al Houthi control. Al Hajeri said the current gains on the Hodeida front has put them closer to their final destination and government forces would have to oust Al Houthis from small towns like the historical Zabid and Bait Al Faqih before storming Hodeida.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Taiz, fighting raged on Saturday as government forces launched an attack on Al Houthi militants on the eastern edges of the city amid heavy air strikes by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets.

Yemen’s Ministry of Defence said two civilians, a woman and a child, were killed on Friday when a rocket fired by Al Houthis exploded inside their house in Tha’aban region on the eastern edges of the city.

The ministry also said similar, indiscriminate shelling by Al Houthis injured several civilians in the newly liberated Salo district on the southern edges of Taiz.

Local right groups said hundreds of civilians have been killed over the past three years when Al Houthis, who are stationed on the city’s outskirts, heavily shelled residential areas in the city centre in a bid to weaken government forces.

On Friday, the ministry said government troops drove Al Houthis from a hill and a village on the eastern and western outskirts of Taiz. Heavy fighting was reported on Saturday in the northern provinces of Jawf and Hajja.