Yemen joint forces make 'crucial progress' in driving Houthis from key areas

Military experts predict turning point in war after forces make gains and press on with offensive

Yemeni security forces have driven Houthi rebels out of key areas in Taez. AFP

The joint forces battling Iran-backed Houthis in the western coast in Yemen have made “crucial progress" in driving the rebels from key areas in the provinces of Taez.

The territorial gains came amid heavy clashes with hundreds of Houthi fighters killed as fierce fighting continues for a second week.

Smoke rises from the site of air strikes in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. Reuters

"On Saturday, Al Amalika troops, part of the joint forces, scored crucial progress when they passed the intersection of Jabal Ras, south-east Hodeidah, and advanced deep in Maqbanah district in the south-west Taez province," Al Amalikah spokesman Aseel Al Sakladi told The National.

He said their forces continued the progress ahead and seized strategic areas in the provinces of Ibb and Taez in the past three days.

The troops also launched a new offensive and advanced from Hays district, southern Hodeidah, towards Jabal Ras district cutting 10 kilometres towards the Al Oudain district, the first district which links Hodeidah with Ibb.

In south-east Hodeidah, the forces, mainly Al Amalikah brigades which comprise 90 per cent of personnel from South Yemen, seized control of Hays and continued pressing towards the south-west of Taez, said Col Mamoon Al Mahjami, a spokesman for the Al Amalikah forces.

"Our forces took full control over the district of Hays in southern Hodeidah last week and pressed from Wadi Sakam ahead, controlling large swathes in the Maqbanah Shamir district, 18 kilometres from the western Taez province," he said.

They also seized control over strategic posts in the district of Maqbanah. The latest was Al Jamal hills, north of the district of northern Taez.

"Our forces will keep pushing towards Taez and Ibb following the recent gains.”

About 200 Houthi fighters were killed in a second week of confrontations in Hays, Al Jarahi, Maqbanah and Jabal Ras, Col Al Mahjami said.

"They also planted big amounts of landmines and IEDs in the main public school and the mosque in our village.”

The rebels resorted to destroying road bridges that link areas in southern Hodeidah with Taez and Ibb.

"They blew up more than six bridges between Hays, Jabal Ras districts in Hodeidah and Ibb province," a Jabal Ras resident told The National anonymously, fearing reprisal.

"They also planted big amounts of landmines and IEDs in the main public school and the mosque in our village.”

Changing the course of the war

Yemeni military analysts now expect a turning point in the war.

The joint forces have made crucial gains in the western coast and towards provinces of Ibb and Taez and I expect them to change the equation of the war on the ground, Gen That Hussein, a military expert, told The National.

The recent gains are "very crucial" because they were made in strategic areas linking the three provinces of Hodeidah, Ibb and Taez, which inflicted a fatal blow to the Houthi rebels who weren’t expecting such large-scale offensive from forces that have already defeated them in the south in 2015.

"The recent offensive of the joint forces on the western coast contributed to ease the pressure the Houthis have been putting on Marin front, so the pro-government troops in Marin should invest that and push the rebels back towards Sanaa,” the expert said.

Updated: November 28th 2021, 12:17 PM