Al Mukalla: Yemen’s government forces have stormed Bayhan town, Al Houthi’s last urban bastion in the southern province of Shabwa, local government and military commanders said on Friday.
Backed by intensive air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, army troops and allied resistance fighters seized control of most of Bayhan after taking complete control of the neighbouring Ouselan district, for the first time since the beginning of the the war.
“Dozens of Al Houthis have been either killed or held by the national army and the resistance fighters,” a local government official who requested anonymity told Gulf News by telephone.
Several resistance fighters were also killed in the fighting on Friday.
Iran-backed Al Houthis have been in full control of Bayhan and Ouselan districts since the early days of their rapid expansion across Yemen in early 2015.
Government forces have tried many times to recapture Bayhan from Al Houthis.
The official said that government forces succeeded on Friday morning in pushing the militants from strategic mountains in Ouselan district and quickly pushed toward Bayhan.
“Al Houthi forces crumbled in the face of the offensive by government forces. Many militants surrendered as others fled to the province of Baydha,” the official said.
Videos and photos posted on social media showed a line of armed vehicles rolling into Bayhan as soldiers flashed the victory sign.
Local commanders said that their forces would comb farms and houses for Al Houthi militants as experts would defuse hundreds of landmines planted by the defeated militants.
If Bayhan falls, government forces would be in full control of the important oil and gas rich province of Shabwa.
Military experts believe that months of fierce strikes by coalition fighter jets and deadly clashes with government forces have greatly eroded Al Houthi forces and morale, which set the for Friday’s victory.
Elite Shabwani Forces—security units trained and armed by the UAE—have cleansed many areas in the province from Al Qaida and Daesh militants who exploited the current war on Al Houthis to gain a foothold in the province.
Meanwhile, on the Red Sea frontline, government forces pushed back an offensive by Al Houthis aimed at recapturing the region of Khokha and other areas in the province of Hodeida.
Local army commanders said that Al Houthis withdrew to their previous positions in Hays and Tehaita towns after many of their men were killed.
Last week Al Houthis suffered a major setback in the province of Hodeida after government forces took control of key cities, a military camps and are now laying siege on Hays town.