The Arab-led Coalition has relaunched a major offensive in Yemen to recapture the vital Red Sea port city of Hodeidah after Houthi rebels failed to attend recent peace talks aimed at averting a military offensive.
The operation will be multi-pronged and comes after Yemeni government troops, backed by the international coalition, took the key supply lines along a key Houthi supply line known as Kilo 16 that links Hodeidah to the occupied capital of Sanaa, Brig. Ali Al Tunaiji, commander of the Arab coalition taskforce for the Red Sea coast, told the UAE state media outlet WAM.
"The Saudi-led Arab Coalition forces continue military operations in Yemen's Red Sea Coast, in cooperation with the Joint Yemeni Resistance forces through surprising strategic military plans that were unexpected by the collapsing militias whose positions are falling one by one,” Brig Al Tunaiji said. He added that the advances had forced Houthi rebels to fall back from frontline positions, abandoning weapons, equipment and dead fighters and that the Coalition backed forces had taken control of “strategic areas in the Hodeidah front and cut rebel supply lines".
He added that the operation would be done in a way that minimised the impact on civilian populations in the city, many of whom have been prevented leaving by the rebels and “are being used as human shields by the militias to protect their defeated fighters,” Brig Al Tunaiji said.
The military commander singled out the pro-government Amaliqa (or Giants) brigades of the South Yemen Movement, the for special mention due to their “superb fighting spirit” while leading the fighting against Houthi rebels.
He said that that thousands of well-trained Joint Yemeni Resistance fighters “had joined the operation to secure the liberate areas in Hodeidah and to deal with any desperate infiltration moves by the Houthis.”
The offensive to recapture Hodeidah was paused to allow time for UN-led efforts to hold peace talks. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths regularly travelled between Aden, Sanaa and international backers to lay the groundwork for the first talks in two years.
However, although all parties agreed to attend a meeting in Geneva on September 6, the Houthi delegation never left Sanaa after making last-minute demands.
As such the talks were postponed indefinitely and Mr Griffiths travelled to Sanaa over the weekend to discuss next steps.
With talks stalled, the coalition warned that the military offensive to recapture Hodiedah would be restarted.