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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 May 2018

Yemeni troops retake Haiys district from rebels in Hodeidah

Government forces move closer to key port and able to control rebel supply lines to Taez province 

Yemeni soldiers drive a tank on the outskirts of the rebel-held Sanaa on February 2, 2018. Government troops are stalled on the edge of the Yemeni capital but have made steady gains elsewhere with support from a Saudi-led military coalition. Jon Gambrell / AP Photo
Yemeni soldiers drive a tank on the outskirts of the rebel-held Sanaa on February 2, 2018. Government troops are stalled on the edge of the Yemeni capital but have made steady gains elsewhere with support from a Saudi-led military coalition. Jon Gambrell / AP Photo

Yemeni troops captured the Haiys district of Hodeidah from Houthi rebels on Monday, moving them closer to taking control of the port city after a months-long campaign backed by the Saudi-led military coalition.

The area was taken by the army's Al Amalikah Brigade after heavy fighting in which 30 rebels were killed and 13 captured, the brigade's commander, Maj Gen Abu Zarah Al Muharramy, told The National.

"Our forces stormed Haiys in a sudden offensive and control the centre of Haiys from Al Sakam intersection to the south of Hodiedah," Maj Gen Al Muharramy said.

He said hundreds of rebel fighters fled toward neighbouring Al Garahi district, which will be the next target of the military campaign.

The gain came as Saudi air defences intercepted another rebel ballistic missile fired at the kingdom. The coalition said the missile was fired at the southern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait from Saada province, the Houthis' northern stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia, and brought down at 7.23am.

The victory in Haiys is the latest advance in a campaign to retake the rebel-held port of Hodeidah, which the coalition says the Iran-backed Houthis are using to smuggle in weapons and launch attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

Control of the district will enable government forces to cut off the rebels' supply route from Hodeidah to the neighbouring province of Taez, where coalition-backed government forces are fighting the insurgents on several fronts.

On Sunday, troops seized several areas in Taez including Al Safra village and Al Karrash highway in the west of the province.

Government forces also took control of an area north of Taez city, the provincial capital, and advanced towards Al Waesh mountain overlooking the city amid fierce fighting, said Tariq Al Mulaiki, a journalist working with the Yemeni army.

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