Yemen's southern forces say they have liberated oil-rich Shabwa province from Houthis

Announcement comes after 10 days of deadly clashes with Iran-backed rebels

Pro-government southern forces in Yemen recaptured three districts in Shabwa province. AFP
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Al Amalika Southern Forces said they have liberated Yemen's oil-rich province of Shabwa after a large-scale military operation that started at the beginning of January.

The troops, which are aligned with Yemen's Southern Transitional Council, set out to recapture three districts in the south-eastern province from Houthi rebels who had invaded the districts in September 2021.

“The leadership of Al Amalika Southern Forces declares Shabwa province fully liberated from the Houthi existence 10 days after the military operation [called Storm of the South] began,” Al Amalika said on Monday.

The announcement came after 10 days of deadly clashes between Al Amalika, which is backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, and the Iran-backed rebels, who suffered big losses.

“Our forces took full control [of] Al Ain district after recapturing the infantry base of 153 brigade and Najed Al Markad between Ain district and Bayhan district,” a commander in the pro-STC forces told The National.

“Our troops will go farther into areas affiliated with the bordering province of Al Bayda to secure Shabwa from the Houthi missiles.”

During the 10-day battle, the southern forces, which were backed by coalition war planes, pummelled the rebels in the three districts.

More than 200 Houthi fighters were killed in the districts of Usailan, Bayhan and Al Ain while dozens surrendered to the southern forces.

Southern forces pummelled the Iran-backed Houthis in three districts in Shabwa province.

“Their bodies were left scattered in the Al Noqob area for three days until a local NGO volunteered to bury them after residents sent appeals to do so,” Ahmed Swailem, a resident in the area, told The National.

The rebels had been pushing towards the oilfields of Marib province, the last stronghold for Yemen's internationally recognised government, and Shabwa province since February 2021.

After a lull, they resumed their offensive in September when they took over three districts in Shabwa in an effort to control its oilfields.

New offensive soon

The forces are now expected to start a new operation to liberate Mukayras district in Abyan province, near the border with Al Bayda province.

A Pro-STC official told The National that Al Amalika forces and other southern troops will launch a military operation to recapture the district.

“After securing Shabwa, our forces will move to liberate Mukayras districts in eastern Abyan because the Houthi presence there is still a threat,“ the official.

Updated: January 11, 2022, 5:14 AM