Yemeni government and Saudi-led coalition celebrating the liberation of Medi. Image Credit: Supplied

Al Mukalla: Forces loyal to the internationally-recognised president of Yemen, backed by the Saudi-led coalition troops and fighter jets, seized control of the port city of Medi in the northern province of Hajja after fierce clashes with the Iran-backed Al Houthis.

Yemen’s minister of information and military commanders said that government forces wrested complete control of the Red Sea city and explosives experts were currently defusing thousands of landmine planted by the defeated militants.

“National army troops, backed by air support from the Saudi-led coalition, have completely liberated Medi,” Muammar Al Aryani, Yemen’s Minister of Information has said on twitter.

Photos posted by Yemeni soldiers showed Saudi, Yemeni and Sudanese military commanders and the governor of Hajja raising the Yemeni flag over a battered building in the city’s centre.

The victory in Medi comes after a massive air and ground offensive by thousands of Yemeni soldiers, backed by the Saudi-led coalition’s ground troops and military logistics, against some districts of Medi that remained under Al Houthi control.

Coalition fighter jets and helicopters cleared the way for ground forces to advance by taking out Al Houthi military bases and equipment.

Hundreds of Al Houthis militants have been killed or injured in the past few weeks.

Commenting on the military significance the Medi victory, Muhsin Khasrouf, chief of Yemen’s Armed Forces Moral Guidance Department and a veteran military analyst, told Gulf News that by pushing Al Houthis from Medi, Yemeni government forces have secured the city’s seaport.

“This is an important victory. Medi is an important seaport that has long been used to smuggle arms to Al Houthis.

“The seaport is secured now,” Khasrouf said, adding that the next target will be the city of Haradh, east of Medi, and the final destination would be the port city of Hodeida.

The city of Hodeida is home to one of Yemen’s most important sea ports and control over it is critical to turning the tides of war against Al Houthis.

Coalition forces have long accused Iran of smuggling weapons through the port in order to sustain Al Houthis’ war efforts.

Its also critical to liberate Hodeida as Al Houthi access to the Red Sea threatens international maritime navigation there.

The militant group has targeted several ships with missiles.

Meanwhile, in the province of Marib, at least 20 Al Houthi militants have been killed over the last couple of weeks in fierce clashes with government forces in Serwah district, Al Houthis’ last urban bastion in the province, Yemen’s Defence Ministry said.