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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Plans in place to isolate Houthi fighters in Hodeidah

Road known as Kilo 16 is main route for sending supplies and weapons from port city to other rebel-held areas

As Yemeni and Arab coalition forces battle to retake Hodeidah airport, plans are being made to cut off the main road into the city if the Houthi rebels refuse to withdraw. Arab 24 via AP
As Yemeni and Arab coalition forces battle to retake Hodeidah airport, plans are being made to cut off the main road into the city if the Houthi rebels refuse to withdraw. Arab 24 via AP

Yemen pro-government forces are planning to isolate Houthi fighters in Hodeidah from other rebel-held areas by cutting off their main supply route, nearly one week into an offensive to recapture the vital port city.

Three units of the Al Amalikah Brigades would be deployed to capture the route known as Kilo 16 which runs east from Hodeidah, said Abdulrahman Al Mashra'ee, the head of the Sons of Hodeidah, a group of prominent citizens.

"It is going to cause immediate death for the rebels if the Al Amalikah forces succeed in cutting it, because it is a central route linking Hodeidah with Sanaa and Saada provinces in northern Yemen and with Aden, Taez and the other provinces in south Yemen," Mr Al Mashra'ee told The National.

However, no time frame was given for the operation, with the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, saying on Monday that the road to Sanaa had been kept open so far to give the rebels a chance to withdraw unconditionally from Hodeidah.

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Mr Al Mashra'ee said the Houthis used Kilo 16 to move fuel, food and weapons between the city and other fronts such as rebel pockets in Zabid and Al Tuhaiyta is southern Hodeidah province.

Moreover, Kilo 16 links many internal roads in Hodeidah city, including to the port and the airport, currently the main front in the offensive to recapture the city.

Kilo 16 is also where the Houthis have deployed the 10th Republican Guards brigade, who have the biggest rebel military base, Mr Al Mashra'ee said.

Col Ibrahim Al Theeb of the Tihama Resistance, one of three Yemeni forces fighting the Iran-backed rebels alongside the Saudi-led Arab coalition, said taking control of Kilo 16 would also cut off rebel supplies and reinforcements sent from Sanaa, Saada and Raymah provinces to Houthis fighting to hold areas in southern Hodeidah province.

"Kilo 16 is the main entry point to Hodeidah, so controlling it means the city would then be shut off from the eastern areas of Hodeidah province," Col Al Theeb told The National.