Cairo: Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmad Bin Dagher has said that his government’s military campaign, supported by an Arab coalition, will achieve an imminent victory over Iran-allied Al Houthi militants.
In the past few days, the government forces unleashed an operation to liberate the western port city of Hodeida from Al Houthis after the militia failed to appear in Switzerland for a UN-brokered peace talks, which were scheduled to start on September 6.
Bin Dagher was briefed on Saturday by military commanders on the course of fight in the West Coast against Al Houthis, Yemen’s official news agency Saba reported.
“The sacrifices in which the Yemeni blood is mixed with blood of his brothers from the Arab coalition paint features of the victory, which looms in sight,” the agency quoted the prime minister as saying.
He also praised the “generous” support from the coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Government forces on Saturday fought fierce battles against Al Houthis on the south-eastern edge of Hodeida, military sources said.
The clashes were accompanied by coalition air strikes targeting Al Houthi positions and reinforcements in the area, they added.
The fight came days after government loyalists recaptured the strategically important district of Kilo 16 east of the Red Sea city.
The breakthrough blocked a main rebel supply route linking Hodeida to the capital Sana’a.
Al Houthis have been in control of Hodeida and Sana’a since their late 2014 coup against the internationally recognised government.
Hodeida is strategically important because it has a harbour, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, as most of the commercial imports and relief supplies enter through it to the country.
The Saudi-led coalition accuses Al Houthis of taking advantage of their control of Hodeida port to obtain weapons from their Iranian patrons as well as confiscate aid intended for Yemenis in order to sustain their war efforts.
In June, the government forces, backed by the coalition air power, started a major offensive to expel Al Houthis from Hodeida.
The campaign was temporarily halted in support of UN efforts to revive Yemen’s long-stalled peacemaking.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Khalid Al Yamani said he will meet next week with UN envoy Martin Griffiths, who is currently in Oman in a new attempt to arrange a new round of peace talks. Griffiths is expected on Sunday to confer with Al Houthi leaders in Sana’a.
Al Yamani told Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat that the current military operations in Yemen are aimed at “tightening the noose” around Al Houthi militias.
“Liberating this city and its port will finish off the coup plotters [Al Houthis) and cut off their sources including Iranian weapons,” Al Yamani added in remarks published on Saturday.
In 2015, the Arab coalition intervened in Yemen at a request from the government against Al Houthis after the militants advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the country after their takeover of Sana’a.