Yemeni government troops have seized a strategically important mountain chain near Taez on Friday as the battle with Houthi rebels in the south-west rages.
Troops affiliate with the 4th military zone, backed by coalition forces, captured the strategic mountainous area of Al Dhawari in the district of Demnat Khadeer south of Taez on Friday, Lt Mohammed Al Naqeeb, the spokesman for the 4th military zone, told The National.
“Capturing the mountainous chain of Al Dhawari is a crucial gain because these mountains have a location that allows the army forces to control wide swathes of Demnat Khadeer district and take control over Wadi Al Rahedah, which is the gate used by the Houthi militia to approach the centre of the district," Lt Al Naqeeb said.
"We are 10 kilometres far from the centre of Demant Khadeer district, and our forces are advancing despite a fierce battle with the Houthi militia, which lost strategic sites after receiving fatal blows from the army and from Arab Coalition jets that launched several precision air strikes on Thursday and Friday," he said.
This new gain comes after areas around Haifan and Al Kabaiyta further south were taken in a recent offensive. The offensives are targeting an important area in southern Taez province still held by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
In the province of Bayda, 13 Houthi fighters were killed and dozens were injured in fierce fighting with the Yemeni army on Friday. The fighting came on the front of Al Malagem to the north of Bayda, an army source told The National.
"The battle flared up when the Houthis tried to break into military sites controlled by the Yemeni army in the intersection of Al Bayaidh in Al Malagem district to the north of Bayda," the source said.
In Marran district of Saada province in northern Yemen, a high-ranking Houthi leader was killed on Friday alongside three junior officers when artillery units of the Yemeni army targeted them while they were visiting relatives. The district was recently stormed by the army, the military-run news website 26 September reported on Friday.
"The high-ranking leader who was killed is Ali Hussein Bathlee, a relative of the top Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi. He was one of the tribal Houthi leaders who founded the Iran-backed Houthi group along with Hussein Al Houthi, the brother of Abdulmalik Al Houthi, in 1992," 26 September reported.
The coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict in March 2015 at the request of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. It has helped the government gain control of large areas of southern Yemen, including the port city of Aden where the government is based after the rebels seized the capital, Saana, in September 2014.
A bomb planted in Aden killed an explosives expert and severely injured four others as they were trying to defuse it on Thursday.
The bomb was planted near a restaurant in a busy area of Sheikh Othman district in north Aden, said Maj Gen Qiad Halboob, executive director of the Yemen Mines Action Centre.
The Yemeni officer killed was Col Abdullah Sarhan, one of the centre's best demining experts, Maj Gen Halboob said.
Col Sarhan, who was 48, had three daughters and a son, he said.
"He sacrificed himself to save hundreds of lives. The bomb blew up on him because it was a handmade device, assembled in a primitive way."
It was not clear who had planted the bomb, but Aden has witnessed repeated attacks by Al Qaeda and ISIS since Yemen's civil war began in 2014.
The Houthis, who held Aden briefly in 2015 before being pushed out by pro-government forces backed by the coalition, have planted tens of thousands of explosives across the country.
Also on Thursday, the coalition foiled a Houthi seaborne attack launched just weeks after the rebels targeted two Saudi oil tankers in the Red Sea.
The coalition said the explosives-laden speedboat was launched from Hodeidah, the rebel-held port city on the Red Sea Coast. It did not identify the target of the attack.
The coalition says the Houthis are using the port to smuggle in weapons and launch attacks on shipping.
Saudi Arabia stopped oil shipments through the Red Sea for about a week after the Houthi attack on its tankers in the Bab Al Mandeb, a narrow waterway connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Shipping was resumed on August 4 after "all necessary procedures were taken by the coalition leadership to protect ships of the coalition countries", the Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Falih said.
The Houthis announced a two-week suspension of attacks in the Bab Al Mandeb from August 1. That has now expired.
The Bab Al Mandeb is a crucial route for shipping between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, with about 4.8 million barrels of oil and petroleum products passing through the strait every day, according to US government figures.