Al Mukalla: Yemen army forces and allied tribesmen in the northern province of Jawf said on Saturday they had taken complete control of the district of Al Metoun after Iran-backed Al Houthi militants pulled out of their positions.

“Al Houthis preferred to withdraw ahead of (the) arrival of a large (number of) troops on the edges of the district,” Abdullah Al Ashraf, a spokesperson for resistance militants in the province, told Gulf News on Saturday.

Unlike other front lines where government forces are struggling to break Al Houthis’ military lines, Yemeni forces have seized large swathes of land from the militants including the province’s capital, Hazem, since late last year.

Fearing imminent fierce clashes between the two sides, hundreds of people fled Al Metoun in the last couple of days to Hazem and other regions when the government forces were mobilising to attack the district.

Al Ashraf, who also returned to his house in the same city, said: “People came back home when Al Houthis left the city without fighting.”

After clearing militants out of Al Metoun and recently the district of Al Masloub, Al Ashraf said that only two districts are still under Al Houthis’ control in the province.

“If we manage to (take) control (of) these districts, we would be on the border with Saada.” Saada is an Al Houthi stronghold in the northwest of the country.

Military analysts say that the government forces are pushing their advance into the remaining regions in the province as to surround the militants in Saada.

In the province of Sana’a, Yemeni forces said on Friday they had seized some mountainous areas outside the capital after fierce fighting with Al Houthis and army units loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Abdullah Al Shandagi, Sana’a resistance spokesperson, said on Friday that the government forces pushed Al Houthis out of the mountain of Sulta and a small village called Al Houl.

A year after the beginning of the military operation against Al Houthis, government forces are now less than 30km from the Yemeni capital.

Both the internationally supported government and Al Houthis are competing to win allegiances of powerful tribes that live on the edge of the capital.

Local media reports recently said that Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, the deputy chief commander of armed forces, met with the leaders of some of these tribes in the central province of Marib where they assured him their support to the advancing government forces in Sana’a province.