Yemeni prime minister to return to Aden within days

Meanwhile, Houthi attack on Ministry of Defence headquarters killed three senior officers and two soldiers

epa07934862 Members of Houthi militia pass a destroyed building during the deployment of observers on cross-lines in Hodeidah, Yemen, 19 October 2019. According to reports, Lieutenant General of India Abhijit Guha, chair of the UN's redeployment coordination committee in the Yemeni city of Hodeidah, oversaw the deployment of observers on cross-lines and checkpoints in Hodeidah to stabilize the ceasefire and activate a new procedure for de-escalation in the port city between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government forcers. Hodeidah is the key lifeline entry point for most of the Arab country’s food imports and humanitarian aid.  EPA/NAJEEB ALMAHBOOBI
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The Yemeni Prime Minister, Maeen Saeed, is expected to soon return from Saudi Arabia to Aden, along with government ministers.

Their return within the next three days is part of an agreement signed in Riyadh between the government and the Southern Transitional Council.

“The prime minister and more than eight ministers in the current government are getting ready to fly to Aden within a few days," an official said.

"They were supposed to be in Aden according to the agreement signed in Riyadh but the preparations haven’t been wrapped up.

"The Coalition has been repairing the government headquarters and the Presidential Palace in Aden, where the government is supposed to stay."

Mr Saeed confirmed that he would return to Aden as soon as the repairs were completed, the state owned Saba news agency reported on Thursday.

Under the agreement, which was reached this month, the prime minister must return to Aden within seven days of signing.

Meanwhile, three senior Yemeni army officers and two soldiers were killed in a missile attack on the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Marib province, northern Yemen, on Wednesday, a military source said.

The ministry said the attack happened while the Defence Minister, Gen Mohammed Al Maqdashi, was in a meeting with his top officers. Gen Al Maqdashi survived the attack.

It is the second attack on the base in the past three weeks, after the Iran-backed Houthi rebels struck on October 29.

Twelve Houthi fighters were killed and nine injured when the Joint Forces repelled a large-scale attack on Tuesday.

"They had been attacking sites belonging to Al Amalikah Brigades in Al Bareh, in the western Taez province in southern Yemen,” said Col Wathah Al Dubaish, spokesman for the Joint Forces on the western coast.

“In the early morning on Tuesday, the Houthi rebels carried out a wide-range attack aimed at recapturing the strategic hill of Al Hamra in Al Bareh.

"This hill was liberated by Al Amalikah forces in May 2018. It overlooks the main supply route that was used by the Houthis to re-equip their militia in Kahboob and Al Waziyyah, northern Lahj province.

“The Houthis intensively attacked sites in Al Amalikah from different directions, trying to control the hill, but our fighters were on high alert.

"They launched a counter-attack. The artillery unit successfully hit two Houthi vehicles, killing all of the fighters on them."

Col Al Dubaish said dozens of Houthi fighters were killed or injured and most of the equipment used in the attack was seized.

On Monday, a top Houthi leader was killed along with two of his soldiers amid clashes with the pro-government troops in Duraihimi city, east of the port city of Hodeidah the Joint Forces said.

Wael Abu Shihab was leading a group of fighters trying to break a siege around them in the centre of Duraihimi.

“Our forces precisely targeted the Houthis and killed the leader and another two fighters," a military source said.

"Meanwhile the rest of the fighters in the group escaped back to their sites in the southern outskirts of Hodeidah city.

Last week the UN said the rebels were digging trenches and tunnels around Hodeidah, where monitoring posts have been built to observe the withdrawal of troops from both sides.

UN observer Gen Abhijit Guha warned that progress made by putting the five monitoring posts in place is under threat because of the Houthi breaches.