Cairo: The Yemeni army, supported by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, on Thursday advanced in the north-west province of Hajjah against Iran-aligned Al Houthi militants, military sources said.
The government troops recaptured the Ahem Triangle in Hajjah and a major route linking the coastal province to the Red Sea city of Hodeida, Dubai-based television Al Arabiya reported, citing the sources.
The Yemeni army also retook control of Hajjah’s district of Hayran, Al Arabiya said.
The army media centre said leading Al Houthi ideologue Hamoud Ali, aka Abu Dhia, was captured in the Hayran battle.
The prisoner said he had been with the radical fighters with the aim of boosting their morale after recent setbacks suffered by Al Houthis in Hayran, the army added in a statement.
In recent weeks, government loyalists, supported by the coalition air cover, have made advances on several battle fronts against Al Houthis, who seized parts of Yemen in a 2014 coup against the internationally recognised government.
Supported by the coalition jets, government forces have liberated a string of villages in the far northern province of Sa’ada, the stronghold of Al Houthis near the Saudi border, an army commander said on Thursday.
“The army troops have brought the market of Al Malahiz in the district of Dhaher in Sa’ada under their fire control,” Brig Abdul Karim Al Sadai added in media remarks.
The progress came days after the troops cut off a major supply route for Al Houthis in the area.
“The heroes of the National Army are preparing for entering the market and liberating it from Al Houthi coup plotters in the next hours,” he said.
The recapture of Al Malahiz market is important due to its trade scale and strategic location. Al Malahiz is located around 20 kilometres from the district of Maran, from which most Al Houthis leaders hail.
The Iran-aligned rebels have used Sa’ada as a launch pad for firing ballistic missiles across the border into the Saudi territory.
In March 2015, the Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened in Yemen in response to a request from its government against Al Houthis after the militants advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the country after their takeover of the capital Sana’a in late 2014.