Thousands of Yemeni reinforcements take up fight against Houthi rebels

The Saudi-trained troops will help Yemeni forces make a push to recapture Sanaa, the rebel-held Yemeni capital

Tribal gunmen hold weapons apparently to protect their province from possible attacks by Shiite Houthi militias, in the oil-rich province of Marib in Yemen on January 22, 2015. Ali Mohammed / EPA
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The Arab coalition on Saturday sent “thousands of highly trained” soldiers to the fight against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen after the rebels claimed to have stolen 500,000 barrels of crude oil.

The soldiers were deployed to the northern front of Yemen to conduct operations against rebel militia strongholds located in Sadah, Al Jawf and Marib provinces.

"The newly pushed force is composed of Yemeni soldiers, highly trained in Saudi Arabia. It is anticipated they will effectively contribute to the liberation of areas still held by the Houthi militia," Colonel Yehya Al Hatimi, the director of the military information centre, told The National.

The reinforcements include armoured vehicles and tanks to ensure sustain the Yemeni forces' push to recapture Sanaa, the rebel-held capital.

This comes as the Houthis announced on Friday they will be selling 500,000 barrels of crude oil sourced illegally from a pipeline that stretches from oilfields in central Yemen to the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

The rebels are believed to be puncturing holes in and extracting crude oil from the pipeline that runs through agricultural areas controlled by the rebels.

The Yemeni Minister of Oil and Minerals, Aws Al Oud, warned that the method of extraction is likely to destroy the pipeline and cost the country millions of dollars to repair.

Oil accounts for 90 per cent of the Arab world's poorest economy and constitutes about 75 per cent of the Yemeni government's revenue.


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The minister advised oil traders against dealing with the Houthi militias, saying they will be violating the law through any direct or indirect interaction with the rebels.

"The ministry of oil considers such irresponsible acts by the Houthi armed militia as organised crime targeting Yemeni national projects," the minister told The National.

Meanwhile, Yemeni forces backed by the Arab coalition recaptured on Saturday several locations in Sada, including a rebel military base.

In Bakem district to the north of Sada, the Yemeni army liberated posts in Al Hamra hill, Genah Al Saker and a chain of hills in Aleb military region, where 15 Houthi militants were killed.