Al Mukalla: Iran-backed Al Houthi fighters fortified their positions around Al Khokha Red Sea region in western Yemen as amid an advance by government forces towards the city of Hodeida, days after clearing the town of Mocha of landmines, army commanders and allied media outlets said on Monday.

Brigadier General Abdo Abdullah Majili, Yemen army spokesperson, told Gulf News the rebels who fled Mocha hid inside dense farms in Khokha, planting landmines to obstruct the marching forces.

“The militia that left Mocha are hiding in Khokha, Yakhtel and Abo Zuhrah in Hodeida. They deploy their snipers inside the thick palm trees farms and plant landmines.” Majili said.

Scoring the biggest military victory against Al Houthis in months, government forces under the cover of heavy air strikes by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets earlier this week stormed the town of Mocha in Taiz province, forcing the rebels to flee to the rugged mountains or retreated to their shrinking territory in Hodeida province.

The internationally-recognised government has frequently accused the rebel movement of turning the ancient seaport of Mocha into an entry point for arms and fuel supplies from Iran.

Military experts predict that the rebels will put up stiff fighting as the government forces approach their last major coastal area, Hodeida.

The current push was launched early last month when hundreds of troops fought their way along the west coast taking control of major regions like Dhobab, Al Ameri and Jadeed.

Residents and government loyalists say Saudi-led coalition fighter jets intensified air strikes on Al Houthi military in coastal areas along the Red Sea.

Last week, Yemen president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said Operation Golden Arrow will continue until Hodeida is liberated.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation in Yemen said on Sunday that more than 8,000 people fled fighting in Mocha and took shelter inside neighbouring Hodeida.

The UN humanitarian body said that the influx of the displaced people put more pressure on the poor health facilities in the province.

“New arrivals to Hodeida are overwhelming already weakened health facilities and overburdening vulnerable host communities. Many displaced families are hosted in cramped accommodation, while others are living in empty buildings and open spaces. As a result of limited health services in their areas of origin, newly displaced persons are now increasingly prone to upper respiratory tract infections, skin diseases, eye infections and pneumonia,” WHO’s office in Yemen said in a statement.