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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Houthi rebel documents show 'cracks in the ranks'

Papers obtained by military intelligence show rebels struggling to recover from loss of commanders

Yemeni fighters loyal to the Saudi-backed Yemeni government hold position during an offensive against Houthi rebels positions in the Nehem region east of the capital Sanaa. Soliman Al Nowab / EPA
Yemeni fighters loyal to the Saudi-backed Yemeni government hold position during an offensive against Houthi rebels positions in the Nehem region east of the capital Sanaa. Soliman Al Nowab / EPA

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels are facing a severe depletion and discontent in their forces in areas under their control, according to confidential documents obtained by the Yemeni military.

The documents were obtained by military intelligence a week ago and showed "cracks in the ranks", said Ramzi Mokhtar, editor of the 26 September military news website, which published the documents on Sunday.

The military also posted the documents on its Facebook page.

The documents, dated August 22 this year, were prepared by Iranian military experts and the Iran-backed Hizbollah militia for the Al Jehad office, a Houthi military arm that advises Abdul Malik Al Houthi, the leader of the rebel movement.

They detailed a dwindling of rebel ranks through casualties in northern areas of Yemen under Houthi control and an “urgent need for newly trained fighters as soon as possible”.

Al Houthi ordered his militants to operate in residential areas and continue using civilians as “shield walls” to protect the militias against air strikes, orders that were were supported by the experts, the documents show.

Civilian casualties are claimed almost daily amid fighting between between the rebels and the internationally-recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, which is supported by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The documents indicate a high level of infiltration by double agents passing on information to the coalition as the rebels faced a series of setbacks because of a lack of experienced commanders to replace those killed in fighting.

After more than two years of war, coalition-backed government forces have made rapid gains in recent weeks following the collapse of the Houthi alliance with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who the rebels killed on December 4.

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