Al Mukalla: Hundreds of jubilant people spontaneously poured into the streets of the city of Taiz, southern Yemen, to celebrate breaking Al Houthis’ siege of the city even as troops were defusing a large number of landmines planted by the defeated militia, residents and government officials said on Sunday.
Forces loyal to president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi scored a major victory on Friday by pushing rebel fighters out of strategic locations in Yemen’s third largest city and put an end to a year-long siege of Al Houthis on the city.
Ali Al Sarari, a local human right activist, told Gulf News that residents did not wait for the government forces to clear landmines from former battlegrounds, rather went to the streets to express joy over ending the siege.
“When government forces and the resistance defeated Al Houthis on Friday afternoon, people did not wait until the next day to express their happiness. They immediately flocked the street to celebrate and to shop,” he said.
Local activists and journalists posted videos on social media showing thrilled people raising Yemeni flags with some posed for photos behind their ruined houses. Al Sarari said that traffic police and security forces were deployed shortly after liberation as traffic jam occurred in some streets of the city for the first time since last year.
Like many front lines where rebels leave bodies of their fighters to decompose, residents complained that stray animals began eating dead rebels especially those scattered bodies on the mountains. Al Sarari said: “Local people buried bodies that were strewn over the main streets. We call upon the Red Crescent and Red Cross to retrieve the others.”
The Iran-backed Al Houthis supported by army forces loyal to the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh have imposed a siege to the populous city since March last year to weaken resistance fighters.
Local officials said on Sunday that medical and food supplies have begun arriving in the city as Vice-President Khalid Bahah ordered on Saturday sending a convoy of vehicles carrying humanitarian aid to the city. Colonel Mansour Al Hassani, a spokesperson for the Supreme Council of the national army and resistance, told Gulf News that as many as 1,500 oxygen cylinders reached the city’s hospitals on Sunday and more convoys are on their way to Taiz. Al Hassani said that local police officers were deployed in the streets and army soldiers returned to their liberated brigades. “We have deployed these forces in the streets to maintain security in the liberated regions,”
Also, fighting flared on Sunday in the eastern suburbs of the city as government forces were trying to push rebels from the remaining districts in the city. “Fighting is on the eastern and northern entrances of the city. This is the second phase of our military plan,”
Al Hassani said that demining teams are working day and night to clear thousands of mines planted by Al Houthis. “They planted a huge number of landmines everywhere.”