Al Mukalla: The newly-appointed deputy chief commander of Yemen armed forces, Lt. Gen Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, on Monday vowed to defeat Iran-backed Al Houthis and their military allies as government forces are amassing dozens of kilometres from the capital.
In the strongest statement since taking charge on February 22, Al Ahmar was quoted on the government-run sabanew.net as saying that decisive victory is “imminent” and the days of “putschists” are coming to an end soon, referring to the Al Houthis who overthrew the internationally supported president early 2015.
The Riyadh-based Al Ahmar has taken centre stage recently after Hadi appointed him as his military deputy in an attempt to unite anti-Al Houthis forces in their march towards the capital.
Al Ahmar has long been known as the country’s powerful general who used to command tens of thousands during the reign of the deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Al Ahmar defected from Saleh’s regime in March 2011 during the peak of Arab Spring inspired protests.
Al Ahmer’s statement comes as new batches of government forces arrived at the Nehim front lines to speed up military operations outside the capital. Dozens of armed forces were seen amassing on Tuesday in Faradhat Nehim camp, getting ready to take part in the fierce battles. Observers view the veteran general as capable of wining the hearts and minds of tribal leaders who live outside the capital.
Meanwhile, after a two-day visit to the remote island of Socotra, Yemen vice-president Khaled Bahah returned on Tuesday to the port city of Aden as local security services are clamping down on armed groups that proliferated during the militants’ occupation of the city.
In Socotra, Bahah launched a reconstruction campaign funded by the UAE Red Crescent to build houses and basic infrastructure that were damaged during two rare cyclones that hit some parts of Yemen last year.
In central province of Marib, government officials said on Tuesday air defence systems of the Arab coalition shot down a ballistic missile fired by the militants.
The officials said the missile aimed at military camps and bases that host thousands of government and coalition troops.
Iran-backed Al Houthis stormed the Yemeni capital in September 2014 forcing Hadi’s government into decamping first to Aden and then to Saudi Arabia. From exile, Hadi sought military help from neighbouring Gulf states to roll back the militants, expansion across the country. Hadi’s forces have been able to liberate most of the country with the help of an intensive air campaign by the Saudi-led coalition.