World, Middle East

Yemen's pro-government forces storm Houthi-held city

Pro-government forces storm coastal Midi city as clashes erupt between allies opposed to them: Saleh and Houthi militia

Yemen's pro-government forces storm Houthi-held city FILE PHOTO

By Ali Owaida and Mohammed al-Samei and Zakaria al-Kamali


Pro-government forces stormed Houthi-held coastal city of Midi Sunday, capturing large parts of it, according to Yemeni military.

Yemeni army’s Fifth Military Zone said in a statement: "Forces of the National Army with participation of the [Saudi Arabia-led] Arab coalition forces entirely liberated today [Sunday] morning the eastern neighborhoods of Midi, north of Hajjah province.

"The army continues to penetrate the neighborhoods of Midi, while the military operation continues until it achieves its full target of completely clearing the town of Mid from the Houthis and then advancing towards the neighboring districts.

"The city of Midi, which has been besieged for months, is almost completely liberated, and the Houthis are no longer in the western neighborhoods of the coast, which will be liberated in the coming hours."

According to the statement, dozens of Houthi fighters were killed and wounded while others fled, adding that pro-government forces recovered several weapons during the raids.

Meanwhile, Houthi-affiliated news agency said Sunday “hostile aircraft [reference to the Arab coalition] launched more than 20 raids on the Directorate of Midi".

The storming of Midi city came as clashes took place between two allies opposed to the government since 2014: forces of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthi militia.

At least nine people were killed in clashes Saturday night between Saleh forces and the Houthi militia in capital Sanaa, a Yemeni security source said Sunday.

Among the dead were seven Houthis and two pro-Saleh troops, including the leader of Saleh’s General People's Congress party, Khaled al-Reda, a Yemeni police officer told Anadolu Agency anonymously due to security concerns.

According to the same source, a cautious calm prevails in Sanaa amid deployment of forces of the two sides.

The Houthi-affiliated Ministry of Interior, which is not recognized internationally, said Sunday that some “outlawed armed elements” had attacked members of their security point in the Mesbahi roundabout, resulting in the deaths of three people and wounding of five others; it did not refer to pro-Saleh forces directly.

There was no official comment on the incident by Saleh or his party.

The Saturday evening clashes erupted between the two war allies against the backdrop of Houthis’ insistence of erecting a checkpoint in front of the gate of the house of Saleh's son -- Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh -- in central Sanaa’s Haddah neighborhood.

Impoverished Yemen has been in a state of civil war since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including Sanaa.

The conflict escalated when Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in 2015 aimed at reversing Houthi military gains and shoring up Yemen’s embattled government.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, over 3 million people have fled their homes since the onset of the Yemen conflict, and more than 20 million throughout the country are in need of humanitarian assistance.

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