The Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have threatened the residents of al-Hodeidah's southern al-Durayhimi district, saying they will blow up residents' homes if they flee for other areas as battles rage between the militia and the Yemeni army, local media reported Tuesday (August 7th).
"Houthi militias are now besieged in some neighbourhoods, and the centre of [al-Durayhimi] district is under our control," the general commander of the Tihama resistance forces, Abdul Rahman Hajari, told Saudi newspaper Okaz Tuesday.
The Yemeni army and National Resistance forces are combing northwestern neighbourhoods of the district in search of landmines and gunmen, he said.
"Dozens of Houthis, including senior commanders, have been killed and wounded as chaos and confusion prevail among Houthi fighters who are collapsing by the day," Hajari said.
The Houthis are committing "major violations against civilians in the centre of al-Durayhimi, including expelling some residents from their homes and deploying gunmen there", he said.
The militia has also barred many residents from leaving in order to use them as human shields, he said, especially in advanced combat zones.
Dozens of young men and children were abducted from their homes, he added.
The Yemeni army's Giant Brigades announced that more than 130 Houthi commanders and elements were killed and hundreds others were wounded in al-Hodeidah battles last week.
The Brigades seized a number of farms in Durayhimi during the battles, 26sepnews.net reported.
The Houthis have threatened to blow up residents’ homes if they leave the district, in a bid to use them as human shields to derail the advance of Yemeni forces, al-Hodeidah media professional Wadih Atta said.
"The messages I have received from residents confirm that this is true," he told Al-Mashareq.
"The Houthis also are forcing residents to take part with them in the fighting against the legitimate forces," he said.
The Houthis want to hold on to the centre of al-Durayhimi district "given its military significance", Atta said, due to its proximity to al-Hodeidah airport and the Kilo 16 route which links the province with Sanaa and Saada provinces in northern Yemen and with Aden, Taez and other provinces in southern Yemen.
Liberating the centre of al-Durayhimi "is the key to liberating al-Hodeidah", he said.