Yemeni military looks to cut off main Houthi supply route

Military reports said the Yemeni army will look to recapture a key intersection

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2017, file photo, newly recruited Shiite fighters, known as Houthis, mobilize to fight pro-government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen. Roadside bombs disguised as rocks in Yemen bear similarities to others used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and by insurgents in Iraq and Bahrain, suggesting at the least an Iranian influence in their manufacturing, a report released Monday, March 26, 2018, by Conflict Armament Research alleges. The report comes comes as the West and United Nations researchers accuse Iran of supplying arms to  Houthis, who have held the country’s capital since September 2014. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)
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Yemen's military is trying to disrupt the Houthi rebels main supply route in Taez after gaining a vital strategic advantage with the capture of the Khalid bin Al Waleed military base in the province.

Soldiers backed by the Arab Coalition are fighting for control of a central road that runs down from Sanaa, Yemen's rebel-held capital, to Taez in the south-east, an area that has been fiercely contested since the civil war broke out in early 2015.

The military briefly held the central vantage point that gives it control of the Al Khazan intersection, which connects the rebel-held north to areas in the south and east of Yemen, before being pushed out.

This point is considered “the gate to Taez” from the north, said Colonel Abdulbaset Al Baher, a military official in Taez.

"Army forces could not maintain control for long because big reinforcements for the Houthi militia came from Al Hawban area in Taez city and deployed on hills overlooking Al Barh area," Col Al Baher told The National.

The military retreated to recently captured areas but will make a renewed push for the intersection with coalition air support.

Arab coalition jets launched at least four air strikes on Houthi posts in Al Barh and on a cement factory west of Taez on Saturday. The strikes killed a number rebel leaders and destroyed mortars and artillery belonging to the Iran-backed rebels.

Meanwhile, elite Yemeni forces backed by the UAE pressed an offensive in Hadramawt province to stamp out Al Qaeda's Yemen branch.

The campaign, known as Operation Black Mountain, aims to eliminate pocket of Al Qaeda fighters in Wadi Hager north of Mukalla, the main city in the eastern province.


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On Saturday, soldiers in neighbouring Shabwa province captured one of Al Qaeda's biggest strongholds in Yemen.

The operation Rafadh Al Ras included two coalition strikes that killed several militants and the capture of many more in "fierce confrontations", said Col Mohammed Salem Al Buhar, commander of the elite forces in Shabwa.

Yemeni security forces also killed a senior ISIS commander during a gun battle in Aden on Saturday. The death of Saleh Nasser Fadhl Al Bakshi is a significant blow to the extremist group in the country.

The civil war that has engulfed Yemen after the Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran the capital created a security vacuum that Al Qaeda and ISIS exploited to increase their presence.

One of the deadliest extremist attacks in the civil war came in March 2015 when ISIS targeted two Shiite mosques in Sanaa, killing 142 people.