Al Mukalla: Yemeni government forces seized control of the eastern gate of a key military base north of the strategic Red Sea town of Mokha after clashes with Al Houthi militia, the Ministry of Defence said on Sunday.
Backed by massive air support from Saudi-led coalition fighter jets and helicopters, forces loyal to the internationally-recognised president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, stormed the eastern side of Khalid Bin Al Waleed military camp in the southern province of Taiz, forcing Iran-backed Al Houthis into taking shelter inside the camp’s long tunnels.
The ministry’s official news site, 26septnews.net, reported that government forces are now battling the rebels in other parts of the camp.
Dozens of Al Houthis and government forces have been killed in fierce fighting around the camp since early last week when government forces surrounded the camp after a successful surprise assault.
Army commanders said dozens of air strikes by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets flattened most of the camp’s buildings and Al Houthis are hiding in a series of heavily fortified tunnels.
Khalid Bin Al Waleed military camp is one of biggest military bases in Yemen and hosts Republican Guards forces that are largely loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
When the Al Houthi movement overthrew Hadi’s government in early 2015, the camp, like most of Saleh’s allied forces, threw their weight behind Al Houthis.
The camp used to resupply Al Houthis who are battling government forces in Taiz and along the western coast.
Last week, Major Mohsen Khasrouf, the chief of Yemen’s Armed Forces Moral Guidance Department, told Gulf News that the camp is no longer providing supplies to the rebels and if government forces take full control of it, they will deal a significant blow to Al Houthis.
The current forces which are battling the rebels along the country’s Red Sea coastline have ended months of military stalemate and have managed to seize control of new territories in Taiz including Mokha and Dhubab.
Meanwhile, in the country’s south, the Ministry of Defence said that dozens of rebel fighters have been killed in a botched offensive to recapture a new area in the province of Shabwa.
Quoting military sources on the ground, the ministry’s official news site said that Al Houthis launched an offensive on government forces in Ouselan district in a bid to take control of Tawal Al Sada region.
Government forces pushed them back to their positions in Bayhan.