Dubai: Al Houthi militiamen who had been occupying large parts of Yemen fled their last bastion in Marib en masse on Tuesday, according to news reports, putting the strategic province in almost full control of coalition forces working to restore the country’s internationally recognised government.
Arabic language news outlets reported that coalition forces and the Yemeni Popular Resistance successfully retook the Al Zor area in the city of Sirwah, the last Al Houthi stronghold in Marib province. Marib is expected to be the coalition’s launching ground for its campaign towards the capital Sana’a, which remains in Al Houthi hands.
Coalition forces have also gained control over Old Marib, Faw, Marib Dam junction and Al Tal’a Al Hamraa’, a vital military location on the road to Sirwah.
News agencies reported that dozens of Al Houthi militiamen were killed in the process.
Troops of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi are now advancing towards the strategic Mokha Port in Taiz province on its way to the strategically important city of Hodeida, north of Mokha, reported Al Jazeera.
On Monday, Yemeni security officials said at least 55 fighters were killed and more than 100 injured in battles to take control of Sirwah in Marib province.
The officials, who remain neutral in the conflict that has splintered the country, say most of the casualties were caused by airstrikes and artillery. They say fighters loyal to Yemen’s government gained ground near the Marib dam and several other strategic areas.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to reporters.
Further south, Yemeni forces on Monday besieged Al Houthis who have retreated to a mountainous area near the strategic Bab Al Mandab Strait that loyalists recaptured last week, military sources said.
On Sunday, 20 Al Houthi rebels were killed and 40 captured when forces loyal to Hadi attacked insurgents in Jebel Nasr near Bab Al Mandab, the same sources said.
Loyalists backed by the Saudi-led coalition retook control of Bab Al Mandab on Thursday.
The narrow waterway, which separates Yemen from Djibouti some 32 kilometres away, funnels shipping to and from the Suez Canal at the north end of the Red Sea.
Coalition forces have sent reinforcements, including 10 tanks, to support government troops in mopping up operations, witnesses said.
Prime Minister Khalid Bahah visited the area on Saturday, and warned Al Houthis there was no room for more “adventures”.
Hadi and his government returned to Aden last month following six months in exile, after loyalist forces regained control of the port city, its province and four other southern provinces from the rebels.
— with inputs from agencies