Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi Image Credit: EPA

Al Mukalla: Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has said that reaching a peace deal with Al Houthis is possible even as his forces are mounting fresh assaults to wrest new areas from the rebels in Taiz and Shawba.

In a meeting on Friday with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, Hadi said that peace is achievable provided the Iran-backed Al Houthis put into place a UN Security Council resolution that obliges them to withdraw from main cities, return arms and allow the internationally supported government to re-operate from the capital.

“All doors are open to reach a comprehensive peace in accordance with the Gulf initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue and UN Security Council resolution. [Only] permanent peace would save Yemen from the ravages of conflicts in future.” Hadi said in a statement carried on the government-run sabanew.net. Hadi’s remark has fuelled strong rumours that his government and the rebels are close to reaching a peace deal that could end months of conflict especially as the Saudis have recently admitted hosting a delegation from the rebel movement. But despite extending an olive branch to the rebels, Hadi’s forces on Saturday launched a big offensive on Al Houthi opposition in the oil and gas rich province of Shabwa, in southern Yemen. A government official close to the governor of Shabwa told Gulf News on Saturday that two army brigades, 21 and 19, backed by heavy air strikes from the Saudi-led coalition attacked Al Houthi positions in Bayhan district. “The aim of the assault is to recapture the four regions of Bayhan districts. The national army and the resistance have retaken control of three small villages in the province during the early hours of the assault.” the government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief reporters.

Military officials said on Saturday that the government forces came from the neighbouring Marib province where they received intensive military training.

In Taiz, a senior army commander was killed on Saturday when his position by hit by a mortar shell fired by Al Houthis during the ongoing fierce clashes in the eastern suburbs of the city, local officials said. Brigadier General Mohammad Al Awani was commanding government fighters from the HQ of brigade 35 when a shell fired by the rebels exploded inside the camp. Despite the death of their commander, Al Awani’s forces cleared the rebels from several military sites.