Al Mukalla: Yemen government forces backed by massive air support from the Saudi-led Arab coalition drove Iran-backed Al Houthi militants out of a mountain in Nehim district on the outskirts of the capital Sana’a.

Other government forces fought the militants in fierce battles in the northern province of Saada and the southern province of Shabwa, tribal leaders and army commanders said on Wednesday.

Abdullah Al Shandaqi, a spokesperson for Sana’a resistance, told Gulf News that army troops and allied tribesmen launched an attack on Al Hamra mountain in Nehim, ousting the rebel forces from their strongholds on Wednesday morning.

“We seek to purge Al Houthis from their last pockets in Nehim district and mount another push to take the neighbouring Bani Hushish district,” he said.

Alarmed by recent government gains, ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh took to the media to make an urge plea to tribes from Bani Hushish to repel the impending advance.

Government forces launched last year an incursion into Al Houthi-controlled Sana’a province for the first time since the beginning of the war against the rebel forces early 2015.

They have liberated major military camps and killed dozens of rebel fighters as they move towards the capital.

Since then, military advances have slowed down, due to the rugged terrain and thousands of landmines planted by the rebels.

Al Shandaqi said that military advisers from the coalition are taking part in the current military operation in Sana’a province.

In the south, army commanders said on Tuesday that their forces took control of a number of locations in Shawba province and now marching towards Bayhan district, the rebels’ last bastion in south.

Brigadier General Mafrah Boybah, the commander of Bridge 26, told state-run media news sites that his forces expelled Al Houthis from Al Saq region and other locations in Shabwa.

The army suspects that local tribal and military figures loyal to Saleh are the driving forces behind Al Houthis’ stiff resistance in Bayhan.

Meanwhile, the Yemen Journalist Syndicate has said that a number of armed men loyal to Al Houthis abducted a local journalist from a remote village in the province of Taiz.

Al Houthis snatched Tayseer Al Samae on Monday when he was dropping his daughter to her school in Taiz’s Demenah Khader, the syndicate said in its statement.

Local journalists said the abducted journalist is not known for his strong criticism of Al Houthis and has recently opted to abandon social media networks and live in seclusion in a small village.