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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Yemeni tribal chiefs join Arab coalition to avenge Sheikhs

The military has captured key points around Sanaa as they look to close in on the Houthi rebels. 

Fresh air strikes and clashes in Yemen have killed over 60 fighters as Saudi-backed pro-government forces push an offensive against Houthi rebels, security and medical sources said. AFP
Fresh air strikes and clashes in Yemen have killed over 60 fighters as Saudi-backed pro-government forces push an offensive against Houthi rebels, security and medical sources said. AFP

Tribal war chiefs looking for vengeance on Houthi rebels have joined the Yemeni army as they captured key positions less than a day’s drive from rebel-held Sanaa.

The Arab coalition has liberated key areas in the surrounding provinces around Sanaa as they reinforce their push to wipe out the Houthi presence around the country.

Recently recaptured Al Malagem in Al Bayda province was the scene of a horrific crime in August 2016, when the bodies of four tribal chiefs were found dumped in a ditch. It is believed they were murdered by Houthi insurgents.

At the time the rebels were holding dozens of civilians hostage and local people feared they would be executed, saying, "They [the Houthis] respect neither religious nor tribal rules.”

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To avenge this disregard for tribal law, two prominent tribal leaders in Al Bayda have joined Yemeni army troops to fight the rebels, saying they had struggled under Houthi oppression for more than a year.

Sheikh Thyab Al Wahbi and Sheikh Ahmed Al Awadi on Tuesday announced their support for the internationally-recognised Yemeni government and joined the army with their clansmen.

A source who witnessed the battle told The National “rapid progress” has been made by the Arab coalition after liberating key areas in provinces borderingSanaa governorate.

During the “raging battles” dozens of Houthi militants were killed, while hundreds more were wounded and arrested as the coalition continues to exhaust rebel resources.

The army is currently executing a pincer movement on the capital as it makes gains in both northern and eastern provinces bordering Sanaa.

Sweeping a key point known as “Sniper Hill” in what is known as the Nehim Battlefront, the Arab coalition has secured Al Jawf province north of the capital with troops on the ground supported by military air strikes.

In the Al Bayda battle, a coalition military ambulance was blown up as it was carrying injured soldiers from the front to a military base in south Yemen. No deaths were reported.

"Such behaviour has all the signs Al Qaeda or Houthi militia characteristics. They cannot be done by ordinary southern people," commander Colonel Abdulhakeem Mossa Al Shuaibi told The National.

The Yemeni army clashed with rebels at the Karish crossing, southeast of Al Bayda, in October.

“They intercepted a military vehicle carrying our soldiers, they arrested two of the soldiers and killed one of them by cutting his arms off," Colonel Al Shuaibi added

The colonel said a military campaign is being prepared to storm the area where the ambulance was attacked.