Yemen pro-government offensive breaks off Houthi supply line

The war in Yemen has taken a new turn with heavy fighting on multiple fronts

Joint forces battling Houthi rebels near the vital port city of Hodeidah in Yemen have launched a large-scale offensive.

The troops cut a vital Houthi supply route between the provinces of Taez and Hodeidah, said the commander of a pro-government force involved in the operation.

"Our forces launched a wide-ranging offensive on Friday morning and successfully controlled the Sakam intersection in southern Hays district, southern Hodeidah, cutting the Houthi supply route, which feeds their fighters in Taez," said Col Mamoon Al Mahjami, spokesman of the Al Amalikah brigades, a pro-government force.

"Our forces launched the offensive from different directions."

"In the beginning of the operation our troops drove the Houthi rebels from Wadi Dhami, the market in the Al Dhami area and the strategic mountain of Al Barasha, in southern Hays," he said.

'An epic battle'

Seventy Houthi rebels and more than 12 soldiers from the joint forces were killed during the clashes, which erupted in the early morning on Friday and continued until the evening, a military source in the Joint Forces in southern Hodeidah told The National.

"It was such an epic battle, our troops scored significant progress despite the huge amount of landmines planted by the Houthi rebels," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Lots of Houthi vehicles and other military equipment were destroyed during the raging confrontations."

Last week the Joint Forces said in a press conference they had withdrawn troops from around the port of Hodeidah in line with the December 2018 Stockholm Agreement signed between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels.

The Joint Forces said there was no point maintaining their positions outlined by the UN-sponsored Stockholm Agreement.

"The Joint Forces recognised the mistake of remaining in defensive positions and not being able to fight. Various fronts all over the country need support," they said in a statement.

The UN mission overseeing the pact, UNMHA, said on November 15 that the withdrawal should lead to a new discussion on the agreement between both sides.

"The UN mission notes that the withdrawal of the Joint Forces from Hodeidah city, Al Duraihimi, Bayt Al Faqih and parts of Al Tuhayta districts and the subsequent takeover by the Houthi forces represents a major shift of the front lines in the Hodeidah governorate. These events warrant discussions between the parties of the Hodeidah Agreement," the UN Mission said.

"UNMHA stands ready to facilitate those discussions within the framework of the agreement and emphasises that sustainable peace can only be achieved by collective effort" the international mission said.

The UN urged all sides "to uphold their obligations to protect civilians especially internally displaced persons throughout the governorate of Hodeidah, and particularly in the south where clashes are being reported", it said.

Yemen's six-year conflict has led to the near-collapse of healthcare services in the country.

Since it began in 2014, the war has turned into a battle of attrition, ravaging public service delivery. The UN estimates about 2.3 million children are suffering from malnutrition, while as many as half of the population lack access to clean drinking water.

Updated: November 21st 2021, 6:35 AM