Pro-government forces seize rebel HQ in Taez city

Fierce fighting in city's east as resistance and military seek to avenge deadly Houthi rocket strikes on civilians.

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ADEN // Pro-government forces have captured the Houthi headquarters in Taez city amid fierce clashes with the rebels on Sunday.

Forty-five people, including three civilians, have been killed in two days of fierce combat that has sent families fleeing from their homes, Yemeni security officials said.

A leader of the Popular Resistance militia that is fighting alongside government troops said the offensive was launched in the east of the city on Friday in response to the deadly rebel rocket strikes on civilian targets.

“We have launched a fierce attack against the Houthi rebels on Friday after they targeted the market of Al Bab Al Kabeer,” the resistance leader said.

The rebel shelling has been targeting the civilians since Friday, killing about 20 people, mostly at the market, and injuring dozens more. The shelling continued on Sunday, targeting Al Bab Al Kabeer, the Deluxe neighbourhood, and several areas on the eastern front, he said.

The resistance leader said they had liberated several areas in the city’s east and advanced into more neighbourhoods in the Tha’abat area on Sunday morning. “We took over several buildings in Tha’abat area, including the Houthi headquarters on the eastern front,” he told The National.

“As usual the Houthis planted more than 100 landmines in their headquarters and the surrounding areas in Tha’abat. This was the main obstacle to advancing quickly,” he said.

“The fighting is continuing and we want to take revenge for the civilians, so we are advancing towards Al Gahmalyah area, which is a stronghold of the Houthis in Taez city.”

The Houthis have many supporters in Al Gahmalyah who are originally from Taez and have helped the rebels to take over.

Many residents of Al Gahmalya and Tha’abat have fled their homes because of the clashes between the rebels and government forces.

“The fighting forced me to take my family to the Salah area as it is not safe for us to stay in Al Gahmalya any longer,” said Maged Abbas, 39.

Taez has suffered from shortages of medicines and food because of a rebel siege of the city imposed in August last year that has forced residents to bring in supplies through use tough mountain trails.

* With additional reporting from Associated Press