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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Houthis suffer major setback in key battles

More than 100 rebels were killed in several battles across Yemeni over the last week 

UAE navy soldier patrols at Al Mokha port in Yemen. Aziz El Yaakoubi / Reuters
UAE navy soldier patrols at Al Mokha port in Yemen. Aziz El Yaakoubi / Reuters

The Arab Coalition secured several strategic strongholds east of Sanaa and killed dozens of Houthis in a push to recapture the rebel-held capital.

The military operation was successful in cutting supply routes to Houthi militias deployed south of Sanaa, according to a Yemeni military source quoted by Saudi state news agency SPA.

Supported by the Saudi-led coalition, the Yemeni military was able to kill 15 Iranian-backed rebels in a days-long battle.

The advances came as the US Defence Secretary travelled to Oman for talks on the Yemen conflict with Sultan Qaboos. Mr Mattis, who arrived in Muscat on Sunday, said he would also discuss the boycott of Qatar in meetings with the Omani ruler, defence minister and other officials on Monday. Oman is not a member of the Arab coalition and has attempted to mediate an end to Yemen's war.

"The Gulf's cohesion is critical and we believe in maintaining stability in the region," Mr Mattis told reporters travelling with him.

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Meanwhile, dozens of Houthi militias were killed in air strikes aimed at weakening the rebels' grip on the key Yemeni port city of Hodeidah.

Among those was General Ali Mohsen Al Mutri, who was killed along with several other Houthis in a farm hideout on the outskirts of Hodeidah.

This comes as a major setback to the rebels, who lost more than 70 fighters in a two-day battle last week.

Backed by the UAE Armed Forces, the coalition fighter jets pounded the militias’ military reinforcements along the Red Sea coast of Yemen leading to Hodeidah.

The air raids continue in an effort to destroy Houthi reinforcements and vehicles along the coast, as well as to prevent Houthi militias from infiltrating the liberated areas in the country.

On Saturday, Houthi rebels attacked the Yemen Red Crescent Society as they were transporting corpses from the outskirts of Sanaa, Anis Abdullah the coordinator of international organisations in Aden told The National.

"The Houthis pounded a car transferring the YRC team in Al Bayda while they were on their way to transfer corpses affiliated with the Houthi militia who were killed in the lastest battle with the Yemeni army," Mr Abdullah said.

He said the car was carrying a white banner with the logo of the Yemeni Red Crescent and was given permission to operate in the area by the Houthi militia.

"Some members of the team (Yemen Red Crescent Society) were injured as their car was pounded but no one was killed," according to Anis Abdullah.

Local employees working with the UN in Sanaa confirmed to The National the Houthi militia arrested two of their colleagues working in the International Migration Organization and an employee of Refugee Council.

The Yemeni minister of the local administration, Abdulrakeeb Fateh, called on the human affairs coordinator of the UN in Yemen Mr Mark Lowcock to interfere in the release of UN employees who are currently under Houthi arrest.

In Washington, the Yemeni Ambassador to the United States, Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak, said his country is suffering from a 10 per cent drop in gross domestic product and a 65 per cent decrease in state revenues due to the war.

The diplomat will look to remedy Yemen’s faltering economy with economic reforms including lifting petroleum import subsidies and adjusting the exchange rate within the country.