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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Arab Coalition targets Houthis on Yemen's west coast

With Hodeidah paused, Houthi leaders killed by air strike in Zabid

Yemeni police men patrol the streets of the southern city of Taez, on July 2, 2018. A large portion of Yemen's third city Taez is held by pro-government fighters, but the entrances to the city are controlled by Huthi rebels. / AFP / Ahmad AL-BASHA
Yemeni police men patrol the streets of the southern city of Taez, on July 2, 2018. A large portion of Yemen's third city Taez is held by pro-government fighters, but the entrances to the city are controlled by Huthi rebels. / AFP / Ahmad AL-BASHA

Pro-government forces supported by the Arab Coalition have launched assaults on Houthi-held towns across Yemen’s west coast.

As a pause in the operation to retake Hodeidah resulted in front lines falling quiet on Tuesday, coalition air strikes hammered several towns south of the contested port city from which Houthi rebels had launched attacks on forces travelling along the coastal road between Mokha and Hodeidah.

The Yemeni Ministry of Defence said that an air strike targeted rebel headquarters in Zabid, south of Hodeidah, killing a number of Houthi commanders.

The Arab Coalition also noted that Hodeidah port – the route through which 70 per cent of commercial imports enter Yemen – was still operating and that a further five ships had docked there on Tuesday, with six others waiting in the vicinity. Coalition spokesman Turki Al Malki added that the coalition had issued a permit for a further eight ships en route to Yemen.

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Meanwhile in Aden a government police officer was assassinated in the neighborhood of Takneeh on Tuesday. Colonel Wadah Jahori was shot dead alongside his bodyguard by two masked gunmen on a motorbike. He had reportedly led several counter-terrorism operations in the past year.

Hospital forces told AFP that coalition bombardment on Sunday and Monday had killed 43 rebel fighters, with efforts focused on Tohayta, Beit Al Faqiya and Zabid.

Martin Griffiths, UN special envoy to Yemen, travelled to the Houthi-held city of Sanaa on Monday for the latest in a round of talks, in a bid to avert a battle for the city. Pro-government forces have demanded an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from the port and the city, but so far the Iran-backed rebels have refused, offering only to cede administration of the port.

The operation to retake Hodeidah, named “Golden Victory” was launched on June 13. However, reluctant to engage in fighting in the city’s urban areas, coalition-backed forces have halted on the city’s periphery after having captured the sprawling airport complex while diplomats scramble to find an agreement.

The Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 at the request of the internationally recognised government of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

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