Yemeni troops are 15km from rebel-held Hodeidah
UAE pledges to return stability to war-torn Yemen as Houthi leader acknowledges losses
The United Arab Emirates remains committed to finding a solution in Yemen, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Monday.
This came as the Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi acknowledged recent rebel losses in battles around Hodeidah.
His broadcasts were once a mainstay of the insurgency but are now rare occurrences. During an hour long broadcast on rebel-news agency Masirah on Monday, Al Houthi, who is believed to be living outside of Yemen, downplayed Houthi losses.
“Retreat, whatever its reasons, is not defeat,” he said.
Al Houthi characterised recent Yemen military victories as insignificant, saying that the provinces lost by Houthis “were already consumed by a people who have abandoned their country.”
He urged the rebels not to flee in the face of the coming battle for Hodeidah. The Arab Coalition, of which the UAE is part, has made ongoing progress since March of this year. Its ultimate aim is to recapture the rebel-held capital Sanaa.
The most recent offensive has reportedly brought the Yemeni military to within 15 kilometres of Hodeidah, Yemen’s largest port city under Houthi control.
In a series of tweets Dr Gargash said the UAE would accomplish its mission alongside the Arab coalition, and return stability to the war-torn country.
History, he noted, will show that the UAE "assumed its responsibilities in the security of the region with honesty and honour.
"The role of the UAE in support of its brothers emerges in critical times and amid the greatest challenges, the UAE is part of a partnership that strives to keep the security of the region," he tweeted.
Hodeidah's port is a vital lifeline through which most of Yemen's food and medicine is shipped. The coalition accuses the Houthis of using Hodeidah and other ports to receive weapons and ammunition from Iran. Tehran denies arming the rebels.
Late on Sunday, pro-government forces retook Al Zaranik camp, tightening the noose around the strategic rebel-held port city.
The city's airport has been declared "a military zone" by pro-government forces, according to the spokesman for the National Resistance Brigades.
The liberation of Al Zaranik follows the retaking by Yemeni forces of Hodeidah's Al Duraihami district, including Al Jah, and Soul Al Zahr, as well as Al Rous in the Bayt Al Faqih district, south-east of Hodeidah. About 93 Houthi rebels were killed, including a high-ranking commander, according to local media.
Meanwhile on Sunday, the Yemeni army's 3rd Brigade of Al Amalikah led an operation to retake Al Hussieniya district, also south-east of Hodiedah, the media officer in Al Amalikah brigade, Aseel Al Sakladi told The National.
Local media on Monday reported looting of state buildings by Houthi fighters, while military vehicles were seen fleeing Hodeidah and retreating to the bordering province of Ibb.
In a televised speech on the Houthi-owned Al Masirah news channel, the supreme leader of the rebel group said that developments in Hodeidah were to be considered a "normal withdrawal".