More than 250 Houthis killed in Yemen in past week, army says

Twenty commanders among the dead

CORRECTION / Pro-government Sudanese troops gather on June 7, 2018, near the city of Al Jah in the Hodeida province, 50 kilometres from the port city of Hodeida, which the Iran-backed Huthi insurgents seized in 2014.  / AFP / NABIL HASSAN
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Yemeni government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition killed and captured hundreds of rebels in Hodeidah in recent days, as the US called on all sides to ensure the flow of food and aid through the province's main port was not affected.

More than 250 rebels, including 20 field commanders, were killed in heavy fighting over the past week, Yemen's military said.

“The forces detained during the battles no less than 143 members of the Houthi militia," the military-run 26 September news site reported.

Pro-government fighters backed by the UAE Armed Forces have made rapid gains against the Iran-backed rebels in recent weeks, closing in on Hodeidah city and its port through which the bulk of Yemen's food and humanitarian aid enters the country.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that he had spoken to the UAE's leaders and "made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports".

The UAE's forces are operating in Yemen as part of Arab coalition supporting Yemen's internationally recognised government. The coalition has called in the past for Hodeidah port to be placed under UN control, accusing the Houthis of using it to smuggle in weapons, but the rebels refused.

The proposal has reportedly been raised again by the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, amid fears that an all-out  battle for the port could affect hundreds of thousands of civilians. Mr Griffiths is to unveil a peace plan this month to end more than three years of war.

Fighting in Hodeidah province has escalated in recent days, with hundreds killed on both sides, according to security sources.

Yemen’s defence ministry said the army attacked a number of Houthi positions in Al Duraihimi district, with dozens of rebels killed or captured in battles about five kilometres from Hodeidah airport, which lies just south of the main city.

Fighting in the Bait Al Faqih area to the south-west forced dozens of families were forced to a camp in Al Khawkhah, and area that has been liberated from the Houthis. The Emirates Red Crescent said on Monday that it had provided assistance to the displaced.

On Sunday, the alliance and the Yemen army cut off a Houthis supply route to Hodeidah from neighbouring Taez province.

"The troops approached Al Ramada area, where they cut the route that links Hodeidah with Taez, which is considered one of the most important supply routes used by the Houthi militia," Tareq Al Mulaiki, who reports for the Yemeni army, told The National.

“It was a way to bring in reinforcements and weapons," he said.

“More than 12 rebels were killed and five were arrested.”


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