Yemeni pro-government forces killed at least 70 fighters affiliated with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Wednesday after they launched a large-scale offensive to reopen a supply route between the capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
The target of the offensive was Kilo 16, east of Hodeidah, which links the two cities. The rebels lost the key transport link in September when Al Amalikah forces, part of a pro-government brigade, recaptured it as they pushed towards Hodeidah.
Yemeni forces, backed by the Arab Coalition, are waging a campaign to wrestle back the city from the Houthi rebels, who overran major population centres in 2015.
The rebels launched the offensive from the Kilo 10 area east of Hodeidah.
"They were accompanied by heavy weaponry, two tanks, a number of mobile artillery, but they were crashed by the aircrafts of the Arab Coalition, which launched several strikes destroying their heavy equipment," Colonel Al Mahjami, the spokesperson of the Al Amalikah brigade, told The National.
The defending forces chased the Houthi fighters and carried out strikes against them, besieging the fighters from three directions and killing scores as a result, he said.
The repelled attack came as pro-government forces prepare for a broad military operation in the coming days to recapture the harbours in the city.
“Big reinforcements were pushed to the front,” the spokesperson said.
The battle for the city has been suspended for weeks to allow for a humanitarian pause to get aid and relief into the city that has lived under a Houthi occupation for three years.
Al Mahjami said vaccination teams had also been sent into the city to protect children against cholera.
“The Coalition is so keen to save the lives of the civilians and to help them to survive, it has been struggling to secure safe routes for them to evacuate from the city of Hodeidah in coordination with the UN,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents from the southern liberated areas of Hodeidah told The National that the Houthi militia are still targeting civilians using mortars and sniper fire from afar and snipers. On Wednesday, a child was injured when a sniper shot him from surrounding farms while he was playing in the yard of his home.
Elsewhere in the city, the Houthis shelled a mosque in the Al Mandher area of Al Hawak district on the southern border of Hodeidah, according to footage published by the media centre of Al Amalikah.