A picture taken during a tour organised by Yemeni loyalist forces backed by Saudi and Emirati forces on June 3, 2018 shows what they said were detained Huthi fighters in a coast guard base near the port of Mocha which is under the control of pro-government forces. Saudi-backed pro-government forces in Yemen are preparing to surround the key Red Sea port of Hodeida in a bid to force Huthi rebels to surrender it without a fight, according to military sources. / AFP / Saleh Al-OBEIDI Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Joint Yemeni Resistance Forces have managed to comb plantations in Al Hosaynia, Tahita and Dorihemi areas, in the Governorate of Hodeidah, where they located large caches of heavy weaponry left behind by Iran-backed Al Houthi militias before they had fled their bastions in the targeted regions.

They also removed hundreds of mines and military booby traps involving explosives planted by the rebels in the same regions.

Arab Coalition Forces launced air strikes on Al Houthi locations in Al Tahita, eastern Al Faza, and Al Mashra’i areas on the Red Sea Coast, killing 23 militants.

Al Houthis have recently suffered mounting losses amid intensive advances by the resistance forces while many others have been arrested and their weapons caches confiscated.

The militants have intentionally hidden among civilian and heavily-populated areas in an attempt to escape the offensive by Yemeni forces.

Spokesman for the Saudi-led bloc, fighting in Yemen, Colonel Turki Al Malaki said last week that the government forces, supported by the alliance, were around 20 kilometres from Hodeida.

Hodeida lies 230 kilometres from Sana’a, which Al Houthis seized in a coup in 2014.

This prompted a Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen the following year, aimed at restoring the internationally-recognised government of exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The coalition accuses Al Houthis of using Hodeida as a launch pad for attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and for smuggling in rockets.

Al Houthis have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The Governor of Hodeida, Al Hassan Taher, has said that government troops have drawn up a plan to partially encircle the city.

“The army troops are advancing towards Hodeida and are working to encircle it from two directions: in the south and south-east with the aim of blocking any supplies to the [Al Houthi] militias from Sana’a and Taiz [in the south],” Taher told the London-based newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat recently.

He added that an exit corridor will be created for militants to flee from Hodeida, which lies on Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia’s main coalition ally, set up a force in early 2018 to ramp up the coastal offensive, leading a disparate collective of groups with the stated goal of taking Hodeida.

The forces include the Giants Brigades — a former elite unit of the Yemeni army rebuilt by the UAE — which has been at the vanguard of the offensive, reinforced by thousands of fighters from Southern Yemen.

The National Resistance is made up of loyalists of Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was assassinated by his former Al Houthi allies in December.

It is commanded by his nephew Tareq Saleh.

The third force, the Tihama Resistance, is named for a Red Sea coastal region from which it draws most of its fighters, who are loyal to Hadi.

Last week, Prince Lieutenant-General Fahd bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz, Commander of the Joint Forces and supervisor of military operations in Yemen praised the “the heroes of the Yemeni army and the national resistance”, backed by the Arab coalition forces.

“We are moving to defeat Iran-backed Al Houthi militants and purge Yemeni provinces from those Iranian-backed sectarian terrorists so that Yemen would return to its Arab and regional fold away from the Persian foreign agendas,” he said, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has said that an ongoing military campaign led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen was an unavoidable choice, but predicted an imminent victory against the Iran-allied Al Houthi militants.

“The Yemen test remains tough, but it was an affliction that there was no choice but to confront,” Gargash said in a tweet last week.

“Time has proven that the decision of the Resolve [Operation] was right and that the determination of the Saudi leadership and support of the Emirati leadership can move mammoth mountains. Cheer up, victory is imminent.”

Gargash described as “inspiring” UAE troops’ performances in Yemen, saying it had taken Al Houthis by surprise.

Hamoud Abbad, the Al Houthi-appointed governor of Sana’a, has called for “mass mobilisation” to defend the front and appealed to tribesmen in the area.

In a phone call to Hodeida’s governor, Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmad Bin Dagher called on the city’s residents to “close ranks against the Al Houthi militia which is losing strength every day”.