AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Army has launched a new offensive in the southern city of Taiz to break a six-year-long siege by the Iran-backed Houthis and ease military pressure on government forces in the central province of Marib, a Yemeni army spokesperson in Taiz told Arab News on Wednesday.
Abdul Basit Al-Baher said that hundreds of army troops on Tuesday night attacked Houthi-controlled locations on the western and eastern edges of the city, triggering clashes with the rebels.
During the early hours of the offensive, the army troops liberated a number of villages and mountainous locations and killed at least 12 Houthis and destroyed military equipment.
“The national army activated four battlefields in Taiz and managed to push Houthi militia from different locations,” Al-Baher said, adding that the army is pushing to break the Houthi siege on Taiz and open a strategic road that links Taiz with the Red Sea areas. If the government forces seize control of Al-Bareh, the epicenter of the fighting, government forces will be able to partially end the Houthi siege on Taiz and funnel fighters and military equipment from the western regions.
About the timing of the offensive, local Yemeni commanders say that the Houthis in Taiz have been weakened since they sent their elite forces and heavy equipment to participate in the movement’s offensive on the central city of Marib.
“The Yemeni Army offensive partly aims to ease military pressure on Marib,” Al-Baher said.
On Wednesday afternoon, artillery shells fired by the Houthis landed in areas close to Al-Thawra hospital in the eastern part of the city, residents said. No one was reportedly hurt in the shelling.
The Houthis have imposed a siege on the city of Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, since early 2015, after failing to seize control of the city due to strong resistance from army troops and resistance fighters.
The Houthi siege has stifled the densely populated city, pushing tens of thousands of people to the brink of famine and triggering condemnation from local and international rights groups.
Houthis earlier this month renewed a major offensive to recapture the central city of Marib, the Yemeni government’s last stronghold in the northern half of Yemen.
In the western province of Hodeidah, a civilian was killed and his brother was wounded when an artillery shell fired by the Houthis exploded inside their house on Tuesday night in the town of Hays, south of Hodeidah city, local media said.
The Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, said that Houthi sporadically shelled civilian areas in Hays, causing panic among residents.
A truce imposed under the Stockholm Agreement in 2018 has largely failed to bring peace to contested areas in Hodeidah as local rights organizations say that hundreds of civilians have been killed in shelling and by land mines planted by the Houthis during the last three years.
Yemen’s government has hailed US sanctions on two Houthi military leaders for orchestrating terrorist strikes inside and outside Yemen.
Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar Al-Eryani described the US decision as a “right step” on the path to punishing the Houthi group for rejecting peace ideas and launching deadly attacks on civilians across Yemen and in Saudi Arabia.