Monday, Jan 02, 2017

Al Mukala: Yemen government forces were tightening their grip on the headquarters of an army brigade, inside an Al Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen, as other troops pushed to drive rebels out of their last enclaves in the south.

The Yemen Army Media Centre said on Sunday government loyalists expelled Al Houthis from the headquarters of Brigade 101, in Saada, and were now clearing the neighbouring hills of landmines and rebel fighters.

The media centre posted photos of government soldiers atop rugged mountains, said to be inside Saada.

In an attempt to break months of military stalemate in major battlefields, government forces stormed Saada in October, from the Saudi side of the border, for the first time since the beginning of the war early 2015.

The rebels have lost two strategic border crossings with Saudi Arabia, a brigade and a number of mountains in Bouqa and Aleb regions.

In the southern province of Shabwa, a government official told Gulf News on Monday that government forces foiled two consecutive assaults by Al Houthis, who were trying to break a siege on their forces on Al Safra mountain in Ouselan district.

“Al Houthis attacked the government forces who besieged some of their fighters on the mountain on Saturday and Sunday,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief reporters.

The current battles in Ouselan and Bayhan are part of an offensive by government forces aimed at completely liberating Shabwa from Al Houthis.

The official said the government forces have pushed the rebels out of Al Soueda and Al Soulem regions in Ouslan and laid a siege on rebel fighters on the rugged Al Safra.

“Al Safra is a big strategic mountain that overlooks almost 30km of flat land from all sides.” the official said.

Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck several mountains controlled by Al Houthis in Saada and Shabwa.

Residents in the densely populated city of Taiz said that two women and a child were killed and several other injured on Sunday as Al Houthis launched heavy shelling in different districts.

Meanwhile, a government committee established to investigate the sinking of a cargo vessel that was carrying dozens of Yemenis off the remote island of Socotra has found that a cargo overload was behind the tragic incident.

In its final investigative report, submitted to prime minister Ahmad Bin Daghar in Aden on Sunday, the committee said the capsized boat was carrying 400 bags of wheat, 400 bags of bran, 1,000 cartons of beverages, marble, ceramics 13 small boats.

Twenty-nine passengers out of nearly 60 are still missing and the government believes they either perished at sea or were taken by international commercial ships.

By Saeed Al Batati Correspondent

Gulf News 2017. All rights reserved.