Ye­meni pro-gov­ern­ment forces launch an of­fen­sive

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pro-gov­ern­ment forces in Ye­men strength­ened by tanks newly supplied by a Saudi-led coali­tion launched an of­fen­sive Satur­day to re­take the rebel-held cap­i­tal of Abyan province, mil­i­tary sources said.

A two-pronged drive on the south­ern province’s cap­i­tal of Zin­jibar was launched from the north and south, the sources said.

It came two days af­ter tribal and mil­i­tary sources said Saudi Ara­bia, lead­ing an Arab coali­tion air war on the Iran-backed Huthi rebels, had sent new mil­i­tary equip­ment in­clud­ing tanks to Ye­men.

The tanks were part of a pack­age of re­in­force­ments in­clud­ing ar­mored ve­hi­cles and per­son­nel car­ri­ers as well as hun­dreds of Ye­meni sol­diers trained in king­dom, a mil­i­tary source said.

This week has seen heavy fight­ing in Zin­jibar and heavy coali­tion air strikes against po­si­tions of the 15th Army Brigade al­lied to the Huthis.

The coali­tion has since March 26 sup­ported loy­al­ists with air strikes to halt ad­vances by the Huthis, who seized Sanaa last year be­fore press­ing south into the port city of Aden.

But pro-gov­ern­ment forces re­took Aden last month and seized the key air­base of Al-Anad to its north on Tues­day.

Mil­i­tary sources said at least 22 peo­ple, mostly re­turn­ing civil­ians, have been killed since Thurs­day by ex­plo­sions of mines planted by re­treat­ing Huthis in Aden and Lahj prov­inces.

Aden was the last refuge of Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi be­fore he fled into ex­ile with his gov­ern­ment in Saudi Ara­bia in March.

The In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross head ar­rived Satur­day in Sanaa at the start of a three­day visit to as­sess the “dire hu­man- itar­ian sit­u­a­tion” in the coun­try.

Peter Mauer is to hold talks with “lead­ing of­fi­cials,” an ICRC state­ment said, with­out iden­ti­fy­ing them.

Rebel of­fi­cials said he would meet Huthi lead­ers and their al­lies in the Gen­eral Peo­ple’s Congress party of ousted pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh.

The United Na­tions says nearly 4,000 peo­ple have been killed since March, half of them civil­ians, while 80 per­cent of Ye­men’s 21 mil­lion peo­ple are in need of aid and pro­tec­tion.

The ICRC says 1.3 mil­lion Yemenis have been dis­placed by the con­flict.

“The hu­man cost of this con­flict is such that no fam­ily in Ye­men to­day has been left un­af­fected,” Mauer said ahead of his visit.

“We are par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about at­tacks on med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and per­son­nel. More­over, de­liv­er­ies of food, wa­ter and medicine must be fa­cil­i­tated not ham­pered,” he said.

It was not clear if Mauer will visit Aden, dev­as­tated by four months of fierce fight­ing and air strikes.

AP

Peter Mau­rer, the pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, left, speaks with a Ye­meni of­fi­cial as he ar­rives in Sanaa, Ye­men, Satur­day, Aug. 8.

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