Yemeni forces tighten grip on Houthi rebel stronghold
Troops secure rebel supply route leading into Saada province from neighbouring Jawf
Yemeni government forces have secured control of a vital rebel supply route into Saada province as they close in on the stronghold of the Houthi insurgents.
The highway runs from Jawf, the province east of Saada where advancing government forces made several gains on Monday, to the northern area of Saada bordering Saudi Arabia.
Control of the route will allow the military to monitor supplies going into Saada, from where the Iranian-backed insurgent group emerged in the 1990s.
The Houthis launched two Iran-supplied missiles at Saudi Arabia from the north of Yemen last month.
Government troops, supported by the Saudi-led military coalition and local resistance fighters, advanced from Al Agasher area of Jawf into the Barat Al Enan district bordering Saada on Monday, said Tariq Razaz, a journalist covering the battle.
Three high-ranking Houthi commanders were killed in fighting in the area overnight, according to another journalist in the area.
"The Iran-backed militia is suffering major collapse in Al Jawf," Khalil Al Zikri told The National.
In north-east Jawf, the military killed 10 Houthi fighters and arrested 52 in their push to liberate the last rebel-held pockets in Al Yatamah district.
The Saudi-led coalition also conducted three raids on positions held by the Houthis in Al Libba and Al Hayja areas, west of Al Masloub directorate in Jawf, the UAE state news agency Wam reported.
The coalition, in which the UAE is playing a leading role, entered the Yemen war in March 2015 to support the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.
The northern offensive on Saada is being conducted simultaneously with military operations on several fronts, including the rebel-held, Sanaa, about 150 kilometres to the south.
In the south of Yemen, troops along with resistance fighters from the Toor Al Baha district captured the Qarn mountain in the area between Lahj and Taez provinces.
Lt Mohammed Al Nakeeb, a spokesman for the army's 4th military zone, told The National the mountain overlooks battlefronts that are crucial for the advance of government forces north towards Sanaa.
He said the offensive to capture Qarn was launched on Sunday evening and led by the 4th military zone commander, Maj Gen Fadel Hassan, and Lahj provincial governor Maj Gen Ahmed Turky.
Many rebels fighters had been captured, he said.
Updated: January 1, 2018 09:01 PM