Dubai: The Yemeni army has said that its forces captured a field commander working closely with the leader of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia Abdul Malik Al Houthi, according to the Saudi Press Agency, SPA.

“Army forces on the Hamak front, located between the provinces of Ibb and Dhaleh, captured the militia chief, Hussain Al Houthi, and three of his assistants,” SPA said.

Internationally-recognised Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi came to power in early 2012 after Arab Spring protests ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh. In 2014, an Al Houthi coup placed Hadi under house arrest. He was able to escape and has since shifted his government’s headquarters to Aden from where he has led an offensive against Al Houthis.

With help from the Saudi-led Arab coalition who entered the war in 2015, the Yemeni army has liberated 85 per cent of Yemeni territory, but the Iran-backed militants still control the capital, Sana’a, and most northern provinces including Hodeida, Ibb, Mahweet, Yareem, Amran, Baydha and Hajja.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia agreed to open the Red Sea port city of Hodeida for 30 days to let in humanitarian supplies despite repeated warning that it was being used by Al Houthi militants to smuggle in weapons from Iran.