Yemenis celebrate the 56th anniversary of the September 26 revolution in the citadel of Cairo Castle, in the southern city of Taez. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Yemen’s pro-government forces have unleashed a new operation against Al Houthi militants on the southern edges of the coastal city of Hodeida where Yemeni forces have recently advanced, Al Arabiya reported on Monday.

The offensive by the Giants Brigades is aimed at securing the government forces’ main supply route and stopping repeated infiltration attempts by Iran-aligned Al Houthis, the television station said.

The Yemeni army early Monday repulsed a militia attack on a mountainous area near the government-controlled district of Al Tahita south east of Hodeida, Al Arabiya reported.

In the past two weeks, government loyalists, supported by an Arab coalition, have tightened the noose around Hodeida with the aim of liberating the Red Sea city and its crucial port from Al Houthis.

Hodeida is strategically important because of its harbour, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, as most of the commercial imports and relief supplies enter through it to the country.

The Saudi-led coalition accuses Al Houthis of taking advantage of their control of Hodeida port to obtain weapons from their Iranian patrons as well as confiscate aid intended for Yemenis in order to sustain their war effort.

In June, government forces, backed by the coalition, started an onslaught to expel Al Houthis from Hodeida, the largest attack in Yemen’s war of more than three years.

The campaign was temporarily halted in support of UN efforts to revive Yemen’s long-stalemated peace process. The military action in Yemen has escalated this month after Al Houthis failed to appear in Switzerland for UN-sponsored peace talks.

The central province of Al Bayda is among the flashpoints between government forces and Al Houthis. The Yemeni army troops this week mounted a surprise attack on the militiamen in the district of Qania north east of Al Bayda where the government forces made further advancements, the 26 September Net linked to the Defence Ministry reported.

Dozens of Al Houthi fighters were killed and captured in the ensuing clashes. Coalition jets on Monday mounted a string of strikes in Qania, leaving a number of militiamen dead and injured, field sources said.

In 2015, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, 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 the capital Sana’a.