Al Mukalla: Yemeni forces have recaptured two strategic mountains north of the Red Sea town of Mokha after fierce clashes with Al Houthi militia, a Yemen army spokesperson told Gulf News.

Brigadier General Abdo Abdullah Majili said that government forces stormed Al Houthi positions on Al Nar and Mabeta mountains in the southern province of Taiz and had started encircling Al Houthis inside the Khalid Bin Al Waleed military camp.

“By taking control of Al Nar and Mabeta mountains, government forces have firm control over the camp and the surrounding areas,” Majili said.

Government forces battling Iran-backed Al Houthi fighters on the edges of the Khokha region in January launched a major offensive on the Red Sea coastline to seize control of major ports from where Al Houthis smuggle in arms from Iran. In an attempt to slow the government forces’ advances, Al Houthis planted thousands of landmines along the battlefield.

Also in Taiz, as many as 11 Al Houthi fighters and several government soldiers were killed in heavy clashes in different locations in the densely populated city, army commanders and local activists who document fighting said on Wednesday.

Fighting raged on Tuesday on the southern and eastern outskirts of Taiz after the rebels attacked government forces.

On the Red Sea coast, Majili said the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s air defence system on Tuesday shot down a ballistic missile fired by Al Houthis at government forces in the town of Mokha.

The rebels usually resort to firing ballistic missiles from their territories in northern Yemen when they fail to make gains on the ground.

And in the southern province of Shabwa, army commanders said heavy battles broke out on Wednesday when rebels mounted an assault to recapture areas in the district of Ouslan.

The Ministry of Defence said that army troops attacked Al Houthi military reinforcements heading to Bayhan district, killing eight rebels and destroying an armed vehicles.

Meanwhile in Riyadh, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi called upon Yemenis to join government forces fighting Al Houthis and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh across Yemen to help evict the rebels from the capital, Sana’a.

Addressing a gathering of tribal leaders and influential figures in the Saudi capital on Monday, Hadi said: “I ask the great Yemeni people to join the national army. Our mutual goal is restoring the state and strengthening its institutions. We should come together for a greater cause, which is our country.”