Conflict in Yemen escalates, government forces advance south

Yemeni officials say that internationally recognized government forces have retaken large tracts of southern Shabwa province from the Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

Cairo-Government officials said on Wednesday that Yemen’s internationally recognized government forces have retaken large tracts of territory in the southern provinces from Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The Saudi-led coalition carried out violent air strikes against the Houthis in other parts of Yemen (including the capital Sana’a), advancing the southern province of Shabwa. The rebels also stepped up cross-border attacks, using ballistic missiles and drones carrying explosives to target Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis also recently seized an UAE ship in the Red Sea near the disputed city of Hodeidah.

Mohammed al-Naqib, spokesman for the Yemeni military, said that the army’s advance in Shabwa was aimed at cutting off the supply lines of the Houthi armed forces, who have been attacking the main city of Malibu, the last government stronghold in northern Yemen, since the beginning of last year. .

The civil war in Yemen began in 2014 when Houthi forces occupied Sana’a and most of the northern part of the country, forcing the government to flee to the south and then to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States at the time entered the war a few months later in an attempt to restore power to the government.

This conflict has become a regional proxy war, killing tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers. The war also caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, caused millions of people to suffer from food and medical shortages, and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

Earlier this month, government forces swept across Shabwa with the help of the Allied Giant Bridge, retaking most of Usailan from the Houthis. Al-Naqib said that they also crossed the nearby Bayhan district and regained several villages.

A spokesperson for the rebel army did not answer a call seeking comment. The Houthi media office stated that the coalition led by Saudi Arabia has launched dozens of air strikes against the rebels in Usailan and Baihan.

Since November, the fighting around the city of Hudaydah has also escalated. This is a setback to the 2018 UN-mediated ceasefire, which ended the fighting around this strategic port.

The Saudi-led coalition called on the Houthis on Tuesday to release the UAE ship Rwabee, warning that it will attack the port used by the rebels to seize the ship, a move that may further undermine the Hudaydah ceasefire agreement.