Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 January 2020

Resistance fighters stall Houthi incursion in south Yemen

Southern resistance drives back rebels who briefly seized Dimt district in Al Dhale province.
A pro-government fighter in the southern province of Lahj. Reuters / October 30, 2015
A pro-government fighter in the southern province of Lahj. Reuters / October 30, 2015

Aden // Pro-government resistance fighters battled on Sunday to repel a Houthi advance into territory in southern Yemen.

The Iran-backed rebels launched an offensive to capture Dimt district in Al Dhale province two weeks ago.

The province was freed from the Houthis by Yemeni resistance fighters and the Saudi-led coalition in July.

But in an attempt to open a new front, the Houthis started moving large numbers of fighters and weapons from Ibb province, which they still control, to nearby Dimt.

On Saturday, the Houthis, who are allied with forces loyal to the deposed authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, attacked the district and took over most of Dimt city, according to a resident, Ibrahim Iqbal.

The rebels then went on a rampage “storming and damaging several shops in Dimt city, as if they want only to destroy the city,” Mr Iqbal said.

Fierce fighting erupted early Sunday morning as the southern resistance tried to push the Houthis from Dimt and back to Ibb province, he said. Reuters reported at least 30 people were killed in the clashes.

Mr Iqbal added that some Dimt residents took up arms to defend the city as the Houthis raided the homes of suspected resistance fighters.

The Al Dhale Coordination Council, a body set up to maintain stability in the province, said the Houthis took over Dimt district for less than 12 hours before the resistance started driving them out.

Council spokesman Waleed Al Khateeb said more resistance reinforcements arrived throughout Sunday afternoon.

“All of these fighters are willing to join the battle of Dimt if the Houthis try again to attack the district.

“The Houthis consider the control of Dimt as the first step to take over Al Dhale province but the southern resistance will not let them take over a single metre in Al Dhale,” Mr Al Khateeb said.

Elsewhere on Sunday, fighting in Taez, Yemen’s third-largest city, killed 29 people including eight civilians, medical sources said. Relief workers have said fighting has blocked food supplies and left thousands of people in extreme hunger.

The Houthis seized the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September last year before launching an assault to capture the rest of the country and driving the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi from the country in March.

But with the intervention of the Arab coalition, the Houthis were ousted from Aden in July followed by the other southern provinces and Marib. In recent months, the fighting has focused on Taez province as peace efforts have made limited progress.

On Saturday, thousands of Emiratis gathered to welcome home the first batch of UAE soldiers from their tour of duty in Yemen as part of coalition’s Operation Restoring Hope.

Khaled Bahah, Yemen’s vice president and prime minister, offered his greetings to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, on the return of the troops.

Mr Bahah also praised the decision to send a second batch of Emirati forces to continue their military and humanitarian tasks, to defend Yemen’s security and stability and the return of the legitimate government of Yemen, the UAE state news agency Wam reported.

The UAE has played a key role in helping Yemeni forces drive the Houthis from southern provinces, distributing aid and rebuilding damaged schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Updated: November 9, 2015 04:00 AM

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