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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

In the line of fire: Liberated Yemeni city bears the brunt of nearby Houthi position

Pro-government forces dig through rubble to save elderly man hit by Houthi mortar 

Internally displaced people at Meshqafah Camp. The majority of the camp is made up of families who fled fighting along Yemen's west coast. Getty Images
Internally displaced people at Meshqafah Camp. The majority of the camp is made up of families who fled fighting along Yemen's west coast. Getty Images

Mohammed Ahmed Jamal was buried under the rubble of his home in Al Tuhaiyta when members of the Yemeni Al Amalikah brigades found him on Saturday afternoon. The house collapsed when Houthi fighters launched a mortar attack on the city, a military source told The National.

Al Tuhaiyta, with a population of 70,000, was one of the worst-hit areas of the Hodeidah governorate. It was retaken by pro-government forces in July, but Iran-backed Houthi fighters have entrenched themselves in the southern, eastern and western outskirts of the city, from which they have launched sporadic attacks. The only available route into Al Tuhaiyta is from the north.

"Our soldiers who were near Al Tuhaiyta rushed to rescue as soon as they saw the clouds of smoke covering the neighbourhood," said the source.

"As soon as they arrived in the place they found an elderly man ... calling for help from beneath the ruins of his house which was totally collapsed over his head while he was sleeping inside it."

Mr Jamal, 70, had recently returned to check on his home after fleeing clashes between Houthi rebels and pro-government forces.

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Read more:

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A soldier who helped in his rescue recounted hearing the elderly man's desperate cries for help.

"We saw the head of a naked old man under the ruins struggling to get out of the rubble but he was powerless, so we removed the ruins which were covering him and took him to a tent were we offered him first aid," the soldier said.

"Fortunately, the elderly man wasn't badly hurt except small bruises in his legs, [we took him] to his family in the [displaced people's] camp in Al Khoukhah, in southern Hodeidah."

"Hundreds of houses in the city were pounded, in addition to two schools which were completely destroyed, while thousands of civilians residing in the city have been besieged by the Houthi militias," said one resident, who fled to a camp for internally displaced people in Al Khoukah.

"They have to gamble too much to go to markets in the bordering areas to buy the basic food stuffs and medicine."

Civilians have been displaced by the recent uptake in the battle for Hodeidah, with many accusing Houthi fighters of using residents as human shields.

"We were living in a city haunted by death," one resident told The National last week. "Days and nights, we didn't sleep, neither me nor my children. We were waiting to die at any time."