Saudi coalition begins military push to liberate northern Yemen

Announcement comes a day after southern forces declared the oil-rich province of Shabwa free from the Houthis

epa06673850 Colonel Turki al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition forces against Houthi forces, addresses a news conference in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, 16 April 2018. Officials said that  Riyadh Air Defense intercepted five missiles and two unmanned aircraft over the past few days.  EPA/Ahmed Yosri

The Saudi coalition backing the legitimate government in Yemen has announced a new military operation to liberate territory in northern Yemen from the Iran-backed Houthis.

The announcement was made on Tuesday during a visit by coalition spokesman Brigadier General Turki Al Maliki to the oil-rich southern province of Shabwa.

The Al Amalika Southern Forces declared Shabwa fully liberated from Houthi rebels on Monday after a fierce 10-day operation which began early in January.

Brig Gen Al Maliki said during a press conference alongside Shabwa governor Awadh Al Awlaki in Attaq on Tuesday that the military operation aims in restoring the legitimacy in Yemen and establish security, stability and prosperity in the country.

“It is my pleasure to announce launching the operation of Happy Yemen Freedom in all the battle fronts in Yemen, which will lead Yemen to growth and prosperity,” Brig Gen Al Maliki said.

“The Yemeni people deserve a better life.

The southern forces, which are aligned with Yemen's Southern Transitional Council, said on Tuesday their troops scored significant progress reclaiming large swathes of Hareeb district of Marib province, which borders Shabwa.

'Fatal blows' struck by artillery and warplanes

“Our forces liberated large swathes of the Hareeb district between the provinces of Marib and Shabwa on Tuesday morning and we will keep pushing towards of the centre of the district in the coming hours,” Aseel Al Sakladi, director of Al Amalika Media Centre told The National late on Tuesday.

“The Houthi rebels withdrew their fighters to the districts of Al Jubah and Al Abdiya in southeastern Marib after the fatal blows they received by our artillery and the coalition warplanes.

The Houthis have suffered big losses within their ranks since the southern forces began the offensive to drive them out of Shabwa.

More than 200 Houthi fighters were killed in the fierce clashes erupted in districts of Usailan, Bayhan and Al Ain in western Shabwa, while dozens surrendered to the southern forces with their weapons.

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.

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Updated: January 12th 2022, 8:11 AM