Al Mukalla: Yemeni government troops continued to advance in the northern province of Saada, Al Houthis’ main bastion, as Yemen’s president discussed with the UN envoy ways of reviving of peace talks.
Yemen’s Defence Ministry has said government troops, backed by the Saudi-led coalition airpower and military logistics, pushed into new areas in the district of Ketaf, northwest of Saada, killing at least 20 rebels and capturing several hills in the offensive that began on Saturday.
Brigadier Diab Al Kebli, the commander of Brigade 143, said government forces laid siege to pockets of Iran-backed Al Houthi militants at Ketaf district’s centre from three directions, adding that his forces liberated Al Frae and Saker hills and captured five Al Houthis during the fierce fighting.
Fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition destroyed Al Houthi military reinforcement before reaching Ketaf battlefield, the Defence Ministry said in a statement on its official news site.
Inspired by Al Houthis’ crumbling defences on main battlefields, government forces stepped up offensives in Saada, Hajja, Hodeida, Serwah, and Taiz.
On Wednesday, Yemen’s army announced ousting Al Houthis from the Red Sea port city of Medi in the northern province of Hajja after months of fierce fighting.
The victory in Medi comes as the Saudi-led coalition seeks to tighten the screws on arms supplies to Al Houthis, smuggled into the country through the Hodeida port by Iran, and reestablish maritime security in the internationally-travelled Red Sea.
Yemeni government forces have recaptured vast swathes of the country’s coastline on the Red Sea and the strategic Bab Al Mandab since early last year and are now battling Al Houthis almost 80 km south of the city of Hodeida, the last major port city under their control.
Meanwhile, in the southern province of Lahj, security authorities detained two Al Qaida operatives after a raid against their hideout in the province.
One of the detainees fought along Al Qaida in Afghanistan.
Dozens of Al Qaida and Daesh militants have been killed or detained since early 2016 when UAE-backed Yemeni security and military forces booted the militants from their strongholds in Lahj.
In the Saudi capital, Yemen’s president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi met for the second time with the new UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths who is seeking to push for peace talks between different factions in Yemen.
The state-run Saba news agency reported that Hadi told the UN envoy that his government had positively dealt with previous proposals and offered concessions during peace talks in Geneva and Kuwait.
Griffiths has returned to the Saudi capital after meeting leaders of Southern Transitional Council and Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh, the son of ousted president.