Despite the rough nature of some battlefields, government forces have made gains and pushed Al Houthis away from many areas in Saada, Lahj, Jawf and Hajja. Image Credit: Courtesy: Yemen’s army

Al Mukalla: Yemeni security forces, trained and armed by the UAE, have been deployed in Yemen’s province of Dhale, south-western Yemen, to boost security as the province has recently plagued with assassinations and proliferation of armed groups.

Residents said a long column of armoured vehicles carrying hundreds of soldiers crossed into the capital of Dhale and neighbouring areas on Saturday where they replaced unofficial checkpoints.

Local security officials said the governor of Dhale, Major General Ali Mouqbel Saleh, ordered armed men to hand over their checkpoints to the Security Belt, a force set up by the UAE shortly after Al Houthis were driven out of most key areas in southern Yemen in late 2015.

Residents complain when Al Houthis were defeated in the province, armed men set up their own checkpoints, taxing drivers of heavy vehicles who pass through the province heading to or coming from Aden.

Security bodies in southern Yemen, including Dhale, quickly crumbled in the early days of Al Houthis’ occupation as thousands of security forces either switched sides and backed Al Houthis or abandoned their positions, creating a security vacuum that enabled Al Qaida and other militant groups to step in and seize control of key cities. Thousands of Yemeni forces, who took part in anti-Al Houthi battles, were recalled to military camps, set up by the UAE military in Yemen, where they were given military training and then sent back to secure their cities. UAE-backed Yemeni security units such as the Security Belt, the Shabwani Elite forces, and Hadhrami Elite forces have been hailed for booting Al Qaida and Daesh out from their safehavens in southern Yemen.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, fighting raged between the Iran-backed Al Houthis and government forces in the central province of Baydha, Taiz, Jawf and Marib’s Serwah region. The state-run Saba news agency said Saudi-led coalition fighter jets carried out 25 air sorties against Al Houthi targets in Qanea and Hauran regions on the borders of Marib and Baydha provinces. The air strikes killed and wounded a number of militants and destroyed a tank and armoured vehicles and ammunition, Saba said. The heavy air strikes are aimed at paving the way for government forces, which pulled out of Qanea, to push into Al Houthi-held areas in Baydha. Thirteen Al Houthi militants were captured when they tried to sneak into government areas on the edges of Qanea.

Yemeni government forces have expanded their reach in Baydha since early this year when they opened up three fronts in the province.

Local military officials said government forces foiled an Al Houthi assault on government-controlled areas in Shareja region on the borders of Taiz and Lahj provinces. Al Houthis sought to push back government forces who recently were just kilometres from Al Rahidah, the second most important city in Taiz province.