Yemeni troops retake Haiys district from rebels in Hodeidah

Government forces move closer to key port and able to control rebel supply lines to Taez province

In this Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 photograph, Yemeni soldiers allied to the country's internationally recognized government drive a tank on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen. Yemen's conflict, which began as a civil war in 2014 and escalated into a regional proxy fight, drags on today. Winning the hardscrabble terrain takes time and costs dearly, only exacerbating the country's humanitarian crises and making a war that's seen over 10,000 people killed last that much longer. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Powered by automated translation

Yemeni troops captured the Haiys district of Hodeidah from Houthi rebels on Monday, moving them closer to taking control of the port city after a months-long campaign backed by the Saudi-led military coalition.

The area was taken by the army's Al Amalikah Brigade after heavy fighting in which 30 rebels were killed and 13 captured, the brigade's commander, Maj Gen Abu Zarah Al Muharramy, told The National.

"Our forces stormed Haiys in a sudden offensive and control the centre of Haiys from Al Sakam intersection to the south of Hodiedah," Maj Gen Al Muharramy said.

He said hundreds of rebel fighters fled toward neighbouring Al Garahi district, which will be the next target of the military campaign.

The gain came as Saudi air defences intercepted another rebel ballistic missile fired at the kingdom. The coalition said the missile was fired at the southern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait from Saada province, the Houthis' northern stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia, and brought down at 7.23am.

The victory in Haiys is the latest advance in a campaign to retake the rebel-held port of Hodeidah, which the coalition says the Iran-backed Houthis are using to smuggle in weapons and launch attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

Control of the district will enable government forces to cut off the rebels' supply route from Hodeidah  to the neighbouring province of Taez, where coalition-backed government forces are fighting the insurgents on several fronts.

On Sunday, troops seized several areas in Taez including Al Safra village and Al Karrash highway in the west of the province.

Government forces also took control of an area north of Taez city, the provincial capital, and advanced towards Al Waesh mountain overlooking the city amid fierce fighting, said Tariq Al Mulaiki, a journalist working with the Yemeni army.