Yemeni forces lay siege to rebel-occupied city in Hajjah province

Haradh was surrounded after a military base was recaptured from the Houthi rebels on Friday

Fighters from a Saudi-backed Sudanese-Yemeni military force battling Huthi rebels are pictured on May 23, 2021 near the border with Saudi Arabia in Yemen's northern coastal town of Midi, located in conflict-ridden Hajjah governorate. - Yemen's conflict since 2014, pitting the Iran-backed Huthis against the government supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of famine. (Photo by Mohammed al-WAFI / AFP)
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Yemeni troops from the army’s Fifth Military Region retook a base in Hajjah province from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Friday, a military source said.

The army, backed by the Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s internationally recognised government, launched a military operation against the rebels in Hajjah early on Friday, an officer of the Fifth Military Region told The National, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Units from the Fifth Military Region attacked the Houthi rebels in Haradh city and recaptured Al Mehsam military base east of the city," the officer said.

"The troops cut off all the Houthi supply routes and imposed a strict siege around the rebels in Haradh from all directions."

Hajjah lies about 120 kilometres north-west of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which the rebels seized in 2014. Pro-government forces backed by the coalition captured the Red Sea port of Midi in April 2018, but the rebels still control about 80 per cent of the province.

The coalition said the Iran-backed rebels were using the port to smuggle in weapons and missile components.

In a video circulated on Twitter, Gen Yahya Salah, commander of the Fifth Military Region, called on the Houthis in Haradh to surrender.

"All your supply lines are cut and you are besieged from all directions; you don't have any chance to flee," he said.

"Surrender to your brothers in the Yemeni army and we will treat you well."

The source said a team of deminers from the coalition had started clearing the areas of landmines and improvised explosive devices planted by the rebels.

Coalition aircraft launched 16 air strikes at rebel targets in Hajjah and Marib provinces over 24 hours, Saudi Arabia’s official SPA news agency reported on Friday.

"The strikes destroyed nine Houthi vehicles and caused losses in Houthi personnel," SPA said.

Marib is the government's last stronghold in northern Yemen, which the rebels have been trying to capture since early last year.

Updated: February 05, 2022, 2:47 PM