Al Mukalla: Government forces are making gains in the Al Houthi stronghold of Saada, its governor said on Friday.
Troops are currently fighting their way into the centre of Baqum district after seizing control of Mandabah region from the Iran-backed rebels, Hadi Tarshan told Gulf News.
“We have completely seized control of Mandabah and hilly areas surrounding it,” he said.
Earlier this week, Al Houthi militants attacked a government military base in Bouqa, just east of Saada city, during a lull in air strikes from Saudi-led Arab coalition fighter jets due to a heavy sandstorm.
Several government troops were killed but eventually the army was able to push the militants back.
In October, Yemeni troops coming in from the northern border with Saudi, were able to make a major incursion into Saada for the first time.
The troops, including Islamist Salafists, took control of the Bouqa border crossing and a military camp in the same district.
Months later, government forces captured the Alab border crossing, also in the north, and pushed further south towards the Baqum district.
Tarshan said landmines left behind by Al Houthis and the rugged terrain have slowed army advances, but troops have killed and arrested dozens of rebel fighters.
Coalition fighter jets launched heavy air strikes on Al Houthi sites across the country on Friday, including Jawf, Taiz, Shabwa and Marib’s Serwah.
Meanwhile, outside of Sana’a, Yemeni Ministry of Defence said several Al Houthi fighters were captured while trying to sneak into areas controlled by government forces in the Nehim district, outside the Al Houthi-controlled capital.
The ministry’s official website, 26sepnews.net, said clashes subsided on Thursday after days of intensive shelling in Nehim’s rugged mountains.
The Ministry of Defence also said two civilians were killed and three others injured on Thursday when Al Houthis shelled residential districts in the southern city of Taiz.
A shell fired by Al Houthi fighters stationed on the eastern edges of the city landed inside a mosque during afternoon prayer, killing the two civilians.
Unable to take over Taiz, Al Houthis have resorted to shelling city’s residential centre.
In an attempt to force army troops into surrendering, they have also imposed a crippling siege on its inhabitants, blocking the entry of critical medicines and food.
In the southern province of Abyan, the son of the Deputy Minister of Interior, Major Ali Nasser Lakhsha, was killed and several members of his family were injured in an attack by suspected Al Qaida militants.
The family was travelling to Aden on Thursday night when suspected militants opened fire at their convoy in the Lawdar district.
Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi came to power in early 2012 after massive Arab Spring protests ousted Saleh.
He was forced to decamp to the city of Aden after escaping Al Houthi-imposed house arrest in 2014.
Since then, Hadi shifted government headquarters to Aden from where he has led an offensive to liberate Al Houthi-occupied territories.
With help from the Saudi-led Arab coalition which entered the war in March 2015 to help restore his internationally-recognised presidency, it has achieved widespread gains in many provinces, but Al Houthis still control the capital Sana’a and most northern provinces including Hodeida, Ibb, Mahweet, Yareem, Amran, Baydha and Hajja.
Yemen rebel missile kills Saudi soldier
A Saudi soldier was killed by a missile fired by rebels in Yemen that struck a military base near the border, the Saudi interior ministry said on Friday.
The missile was launched late Thursday from a rebel-controlled area in Yemen and hit a base in Dhahran South, killing border guard Atallah Yasin Al Anzi, according to a statement carried by Saudi Arabia’s official news agency.
Saudi Arabia intercepted a rebel missile earlier this month near Dhahran South.
A missile attack on the area last month killed a policeman.