Al Mukalla: The Yemen army is sending military reinforcements, including hundreds of highly-trained and well-equipped forces, to the Al Houthi heartland of Sa’ada to shore up government forces battling the rebels there.

The official website of ministry of defence said the first group of army soldiers were dispatched to the Alab frontline in eastern Sa’ada province and the army is also preparing other reinforcements to bolster the Bouqa battlefield in northern Sa’ada.

Hadi Tarshan, the governor of Sa’ada, told Gulf News that they have deployed 1,200 soldiers from Brigade 102 to the Alab front, and he said more forces were currently being trained in Marib to join their peers.

After advancing into the province from the Saudi side of the borderline last year, Yemen government forces backed by massive air support from the Saudi-led coalition are now battling Al Houthis on two fronts; Alab, from which they will move in on the Al Baqum district centre and Bouqa where intense clashes are taking place.

Army commanders expect tough battles ahead.

Al Houthi leader, Abdul Malek Al Houthi, is believed to be holed up in Sa’ada city.

Meanwhile in the southern city of Taiz, the state-run Saba news agency reported on Wednesday as many as 11 Al Houthi fighters and two government fighters were killed in heavy clashes on the eastern outskirts of the city where rebels are pushing hard to break government defences and advance into the city centre.

Saba said clashes broke out when rebel forces staged simultaneous attacks on government forces’ sites and the rebels retreated after losing a dozen fighters.

Local medics said a civilian was also killed by heavy Al Houthi shelling on residential areas in the city centre.

Similar heavy battles were reported on Wednesday in the northern province of Hajja where government forces backed by coalition fighter jets battled rebels in the Haradh and Medi districts.

Meanwhile, in the province of Dhamar at least 12 people were killed or injured in clashes between Al Houthi and local tribesmen, according to local media reports.

Al Masdar Online, an independent news site, said the clashes erupted when Al Houthis tried to storm some houses in the Khetab district to arrest locals but armed tribesmen resisted.