17 die in Yemen clash near Bab Al Mandab strait

Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels for control of the heights overlooking the strategic Bab Al Mandab strait killed 17 combatants yesterday.

ADEN // Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels for control of the heights overlooking the strategic Bab Al Mandab strait killed 17 combatants on Wednesday.

The waterway connects the Suez Canal and Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean beyond and is a major shipping lane.

“We launched an offensive which enabled us to recapture two mountains,” said pro-government Cmdr Gen Fadhl Hassan. “In 18 hours of fighting, which reduced in intensity this afternoon, 13 rebels and four of our men, one of them a colonel, were killed.”

The Iran-backed rebels said they had taken several government-held positions and inflicted losses in the fighting.

Despite an 18-month-old military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition in support of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, the rebels still control nearly all of Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

The fighting came as the rebels marked the second anniversary of their seizure of the capital Sanaa in alliance with renegade troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Elsewhere, a US drone strike in Yemen killed two suspected Al Qaeda members and caused a large explosion when munitions they were transporting blew up, a security official said.

Tuesday’s strike hit the Wadi Abida district of Marib province, east of Sanaa.

The official named one of the dead as Abu Yaqin Al Waeli, an Al Qaeda commander.

Marib is largely in the hands of troops loyal to Mr Hadi but Al Qaeda has taken advantage of fighting with the Houthis to expand its presence in the province.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: September 21, 2016 04:00 AM

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