Ye­men, al­lies in Taez of­fen­sive

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

ADEN: Ye­meni loy­al­ists and Saudi-led coali­tion forces launched an of­fen­sive Mon­day to re­take the key bat­tle­ground prov­ince of Taez from Iran-backed rebels, as un­cer­tainty sur­rounded the fate of UN-bro­kered peace talks. At least 30 fight­ers were killed yes­ter­day, in­clud­ing 16 sol­diers af­ter their ve­hi­cle hit a land­mine, mil­i­tary sources said. Taez is seen as a gate­way to the cap­i­tal Sanaa, which has been held by the Shi­ite Huthi rebels since Septem­ber last year. It is lo­cated at the cross­roads be­tween Sanaa, Ye­men’s sec­ond city and main port of Aden and Mocha on the Red Sea coast.

Forces loyal to Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi have been press­ing to re­cap­ture parts of Ye­men seized by the Houthis and their al­lies, in­clud­ing forces loyal to ousted ex-pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh. They have been backed by a Saudi-led coali­tion that launched air strikes in March and be­gan a ma­jor counter-of­fen­sive in July that has since re­claimed five southern prov­inces.

“The mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion to lib­er­ate Taez has be­gun af­ter the ar­rival of mil­i­tary re­in­force­ments from the Arab coali­tion, re­sis­tance forces and the na­tional army in the south and west of Taez prov­ince,” Gen­eral Ahmed Al-Yafie, com­man­der of the fourth mil­i­tary re­gion, told AFP. The re­gion in­cludes Taez as well as Aden in the south. Clashes in Waziaa, south­west of Taez, left nine rebels and five loy­al­ists dead, while pro-Hadi forces ad­vanced backed by air strikes, mil­i­tary sources said.

The rebel-con­trolled Saba news agency said the in­sur­gents re­pelled at­tempts to ad­vance on four fronts to­wards Waziaa. Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have said the coali­tion sent ma­jor re­in­force­ments be­fore they ad­vanced to­wards Taez, Ye­men’s third-big­gest city. Ar­moured dem­i­ning ve­hi­cles and other re­in­force­ments ar­rived in the Shu­raija re­gion, be­tween the loy­al­ist-con­trolled Lahj prov­ince and Taez in the south­west, said the of­fi­cials based in Aden. Dozens of coali­tion ar­moured ve­hi­cles were tak­ing part in the three-pronged of­fen­sive, the sources said. Arab coali­tion planes car­ried out sev­eral strikes against rebel po­si­tions and check­points in the re­gions of Rahida, south of Taez, and Mocha to fa­cil­i­tate the ad­vance of the ground troops.

Un­cer­tainty over Peace Talks

Su­danese forces from the strate­gic Al-Anad air­base in Lahj were tak­ing part in the Taez oper­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the sources. Taez has seen heavy fight­ing in re­cent months be­tween the Huthis and forces fight­ing for Hadi’s in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised gov­ern­ment. Loy­al­ist forces are in­side Taez, where they have been be­sieged by rebels who con­trol the main roads into the city.

Along the coast, coali­tion troops de­ployed in Dhubab in a bid to ad­vance onto rebel-held Mocha, which also lies in Taez prov­ince, the sources said. On Sun­day, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials spoke of ma­jor coali­tion re­in­force­ments of troops and equip­ment ar­riv­ing in Taez from Aden. A 400-strong Su­danese force ar­rived in Aden this month in sup­port of loy­al­ist forces, join­ing 500 who ar­rived in Oc­to­ber. —AFP

—AFP

SANAA: Di­rec­tor of the United Na­tions Of­fice for Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs John Ging at­tends a meet­ing with Ye­meni of­fi­cials and hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions in the Ye­meni cap­i­tal yes­ter­day.

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