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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Top Houthi officers killed in port city

The Yemeni army has dealt the Houthi rebels another setback as they continue to lose officers among their ranks

A ship unloads its shipment of grain at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. Abduljabbar Zeyad / Reuters
A ship unloads its shipment of grain at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. Abduljabbar Zeyad / Reuters

The Yemeni army has killed two high-ranking Houthi militia commanders in Hodeidah as part of the Arab coalition’s push to recapture the second-most important city still held by the rebels.

The city on the Red Sea coast is the only major port under rebel control and widely regarded as second only to the capital, Sanaa - also still in Houthi hands - in its strategic importance.

Colonel Abu Zara'a Al Muharramy told The National: "Yasser Al Ahmer a well-known commander in the rebels' militia was killed with a group of his guards on Tuesday."

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The death of the rebel militia leader was the latest in a series of major blows to the Houthis, said Col Al Muharramy, as many of their top commanders have been killed on the coastal battlefront.

The deaths of so many officers has bred insubordination within the ranks of the Houthi militias fighting the internationally-recognised government of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, according to Col Al Muharramy, who is the commander leading the battle on the coastal front.

Earlier this week Ali Al Shihary, another prominent commander in the Iran-backed militia, was killed in the port city while setting up an ambush on the Yemeni army.

Media reports had earlier claimed the commander killed in Hodeidah was Yousef Al Madani, the right-hand man of Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi

Colonel Al Muharramy dismissed those claims saying the Houthi commander’s identity was confirmed after his body was handed over to the Arab coalition on the Saudi border.

The Yemeni army is ready to lead an offensive to liberate the rest of Hodeidah in the coming weeks.

In Al Bayda, a province bordering Sanaa governorate, the Yemeni military is preparing to liberate the region, bringing the capital within striking distance.

The Saudi-led coalition launched its intervention in support of the internationally-recognised government in March 2015. The coalition has intensified its campaign since the rebels launched missiles at Riyadh on November 4 and December 19.

On Monday, 53 rebels and 12 government troops were killed in clashes and air strikes south of Hodeidah.