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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Yemeni and coalition forces launch offensive in Taez

Operation backed by coalition air strikes aims to clear rebel-held areas around provincial capital

Fighters from the Popular Resistance Committees supporting Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi attend a graduation ceremony in Taez city on January 17, 2018. Ahmad Al Basha / AFP
Fighters from the Popular Resistance Committees supporting Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi attend a graduation ceremony in Taez city on January 17, 2018. Ahmad Al Basha / AFP

Yemeni government forces backed by coalition air strikes have launched an offensive to retake areas around Taez city from Houthi rebels.

Troops recaptured several rebel positions on Thursday, the first day of the operation, including Al Waesh mountain which overlooks Al Khamseen and Al Steen roads to the west of the city centre.

"Al Waesh is strategically important because the Houthis' supplies routes are going to be cut off after the army took over the mountain completely," said Tariq Al Mulaiky, a journalist working for the army's moral guidance department.

He said 35 rebels were killed in five air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Oman mountain in Al Huban area in eastern Taez province. "Another strike targeted a Houthi military site in Al Kahel area, near the air defence camp north-west of Taez," Al Mulaiki told The National.

The government-held city is capital of the south-western province of Taez and has been surrounded by the Iran-backed rebels for three years. Rebels have blocked roads leading to the city, preventing food and medical supplies from entering.

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Yaqoob Al Barakani, a resident of Taez, accused the rebels of seizing humanitarian deliveries sent by the United Nations and of indiscriminate shelling of the city.

He said Houthi shelling of residential areas in the city centre last month killed a mother and four children while they were sleeping. The rebels have also targeted medical facilities in the city, including Al Amal hospital, the only centre for cancer treatment in Taez, which was destroyed two years ago.

Separately, troops on Friday captured the last rebel-held pockets in the Al Huwaimy area and on Al Khudash mountain in neighbouring Lahj province, Lt Mohammed Al Naqeeb, spokesman for the 4th military zone, told The National.

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