Al Mukalla: The Yemeni army continues to make important territorial gains in Sana’a province, despite heavy opposition from Al Houthi militants and allies of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, senior army officers said on Saturday.
In the last couple of days, forces fighting to restore the legitimate government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have seized control of rocky outcrops of Nehim district, bringing them a step closer to the complete liberation of Sana’a.
Iran-backed Al Houthi militants took control of the country in late 2014, prompting the legitimate government to go into exile in Riyadh.
In March 2015, Saudi Arabia assembled an Arab coalition to fight back against the Al Houthi occupation of Yemen. Since then, the coalition, which includes Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, have made incredible gains across the country. A few remaining provinces are still occupied by Al Houthi forces, including the capital Sana’a and Al Houthi’s stronghold province in the north, Saada.
Brigadier General Antar Al Thayfani, a field commander at the front lines in Nehim, told Gulf News on Saturday that government forces stormed the regions of Al Hawel, Beran and the mountain of Al Homra.
“After controlling these regions, we can say for sure that Al Houthis will never be able to recapture Faradhat Nehim camp. We are also getting closer to Nagel Bani Ghaylan region,” he said.
Fighting also erupted on another mountain called Um Harem.
“If we manage to take control of Nagel Bani Ghaylan, Sana’a airport will be within the range of our artilleries,” Al Thayfani added.
He added that his forces are now 10km from Nagel Bani Ghaylan.
Backed by massive air support from warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition, Hadi’s forces launched a major military operation in December to wrest the capital from Al Houthi militants.
Trained for months by Yemeni and coalition officers, hundreds of trooped equipped with modern arms used the neighbouring Marib province as a starting point for their advance.
The forces quickly cleared the militants from bordering regions and then advanced deep into Sana’a province. In a major military victory, Hadi’s forces on February 11 seized Faradhat Nehim camp and continued advancing slowly into militant-controlled territories.
Field commanders who previously spoke to Gulf News from the front lines in Sana’a predicted that Hadi’s government would send massive forces and firepower in the coming days even as the militants suffer major military setbacks.
Al Thayfani said that the coalition’s warplanes have played a great role in preparing the ground for their advance in Sana’a. “The warplanes have destroyed Al Houthis’ heavy military machinery, reinforcements and canons that shell our positions.”
In the besieged city of Taiz, southern Yemen, residents said on Saturday that the coalition’s warplanes struck Al Houthi military vehicles and arms depots in many districts.
The militants have imposed a siege on the city since March to weaken resistance fighters.