Top Houthi rebel commander killed in southern Yemen

Maj Gen Adel Mokbel Abu Esba was among several rebel casualties in renewed fighting in Dhalea province

FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2019 file photo, fighters from a militia known as the Security Belt, funded and armed by the United Arab Emirates, stand on a tank camouflaged with brush at the Gabhet Hajr frontline with Houthi rebels, in Yemen's Dhale province. Fighting between their allies in southern Yemen has opened a gaping wound in the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ coalition fighting the country’s rebels. If they can’t fix it, it threatens to further fragment the country into smaller warring pieces. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

A high-ranking Houthi commander and several other rebel fighters were killed in Yemen’s southern Dhalea province during two days of clashes.

Capt Majed Al Shouaibi, a spokesman for the pro-government forces, said the rebel commander was killed on Saturday.

"Maj Gen Adel Mokbel Abu Esba, commander of the 135th brigade of the Houthi militia, was killed in clashes with our forces in Al Reibi on the Hajer front with a number of his fighters," Capt Al Shouaibi told The National.

The rebels reported the commander’s death on affiliated news websites and broadcast his funeral on their Al Masirah TV channel.

A coalition of militias known as the Southern Joint Forces repelled a Houthi attempt to seize Dhalea earlier this year and have pushed the rebels back to the northern edges of the province.

Fighting has flared up in northern Dhalea over the past week, Capt Al Shouaibi said.

Another six Houthi fighters were killed and 10 injured during fierce clashes on the Hajer front on Sunday night, a source in the Southern Joint Forces told The National.

“Houthi fighters launched an attack trying to advance towards sites controlled by our forces but our fighters repelled them and launched a counterattack, killing six of the Houthi fighters in the clashes in Habeel Al Madmag between the villages of Batar and Al Mashareeh,” the source said.

"The Houthis attacked from two directions – towards Wadi Al Mashareeh from the east and towards Wadi Al Gamri from the west – under the cover of heavy fire from 23-4 Shilka and other light and medium weapons," the source said.

The Shilka is an armoured, self-propelled anti-aircraft gun.

Separately, the Houthis launched attacks on civilian areas of Hodeidah to the west, according to a source in the pro-government Al Amalikah forces fighting the rebels in the Red Sea coastal province.

Four civilians were injured and at least five homes damaged when the rebels fired mortar shells at residential areas in Duraihimi district in eastern Hodeidah.

Rebels shelling killed 11 civilians in southern Hodeidah on Friday. Nine civilians, most of them children from a single family, died in an attack on Al Mutaina village in Jabaliya district, while two children were killed and four injured – all from the same family – in Haiys district.