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Yemeni VP calls on troops fighting alongside Houthis to support government

Government troops are set to launch a major operation to recapture the remaining territories under Al Houthis’ control

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Lieutenant-General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar
Gulf News

Al Mukalla: Yemen’s vice president, Lieutenant-General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, has called upon soldiers and officers who fight alongside Al Houthi and the ousted president to switch sides and support government forces on all fronts.

Al Ahmar’s appeal comes as government forces and the Saudi-led coalition amass heavy military equipment in the provinces of Marib and Jawf amid strong speculation that the government is heading to intensifying military operations in northern Yemen.

The official Saba news agency said on Monday that Al Ahmar visited Marib and Sana’a frontlines where he urged loyalists to speed up attacks against Al Houthi militants until they exit all cities under their control.

Al Ahmar, Yemen’s powerful army general who has strong ties with big tribes that surround Sana’a, said that the Yemeni president’s government and the Saudi-led coalition are determined to oust the Iran-backed Al Houthi militants from the capital and other major cities by force of arms.

Saba said that Al Ahmar inspected government forces on the Nehim battlefield, just outside of Al Houthi-held Sana’a, and Marib’s Serwah.

In another sign of imminent major military offensives, local government officials in the northern province of Jawf told Gulf News on Tuesday that the Saudi-led coalition has deployed heavy weapons close to the frontlines where government forces battle Al Houthi militants. “I think the government is moving to launch a new big push to recapture the remaining territories from Al Houthis.” a government official close to the governor of Jawf said.

Earlier this week, the Yemen army’s new chief of staff, Major General Taher Al Auqaili, visited the province of Jawf where he vowed to dislodge rebels from their last bastions in the province. If government forces took complete control of Jawf province, analysts predicted, they would besiege Al Houthi-held Sana’a from the north.

Government forces have made big territorial gains since the beginning of fighting against Al Houthi in early 2015 and took control of most of the major cities, including the capital Hazem. On Monday, Yemen president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said that the Americans, the Saudi-led coalition and his government are convinced that only military pressure would end the Al Houthi militia’s seizure of power.

Meanwhile in the southern city of Taiz, residents said on Tuesday that Al Houthi militants stationed on the city’s outskirts shelled residential areas in the downtown that are under government forces’ control. Al Houthi militia has laid a siege on Yemen’s third-largest city and heavily bombarded residential areas to weaken loyalists.