Yemeni forces have retaken strategic mountain peaks in al-Bayad range in al-Malajim as part of an operation to fully liberate the central Yemen district from the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah), military officials said.
In a report carried by local media, Assistant Commander Lt. Col. Abdul Wahab Beheibah said the Yemeni army, backed by Arab coalition airpower, had on Sunday (August 19th) advanced some 18 kilometres in al-Bayad range.
The Houthis suffered heavy losses, he said, with 26 killed, scores wounded, and equipment and combat vehicles in their possession seized.
Yemeni forces also gained control of the strategic Dhahr al-Bayad intersection, he added, anticipating that the few remaining areas of the mountain range that are still under the control of the Houthis will be liberated soon.
On Saturday, the army announced a large-scale operation to complete the liberation of remaining parts of al-Malajim district in al-Bayda province.
"Launching simultaneous operations on several fronts will show how weak the Houthi militias are," journalist Munir Talal told Al-Mashareq.
"Engaging Houthi fighters on different fronts, as is the case on the Hajjah, Saada and al-Hodeidah fronts, will distract them, and will lead to the liberation of new districts and areas under their control," he said.
Obstacles to peace process
The UN on Friday invited representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthis to a new round of talks in Geneva, set to begin September 6th.
On Sunday, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah met with a delegation headed by Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam, purportedly to discuss the latest developments in the Yemen war.
"The Houthis' recent visit to Hizbullah’s leader is yet another proof added to the overwhelming evidence of the destabilising role of Hizbullah in Yemen and its support to the Houthis," the US Yemen embassy said in a social media post.
"This came just a couple of weeks ahead of the upcoming round of the UN peace talks in Geneva," the embassy noted.
Commenting on the meeting, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said "Yemen’s crisis and war are a top priority, as they are intrinsically linked to the future of the Arab Gulf’s security and stability".
"Lebanon cannot be a logistical or political hub for the Houthis," he said. "Ignoring the issue will only exacerbate its repercussions."
The meeting "shows the strong links between the Houthis and Hizbullah and their affiliation to Iran", Talal said.
"I think the meeting was about consultation and co-ordination with Hizbullah about the next round of negotiations," he said, noting that this points to "the extent of the Houthis’ involvement and affiliation with outside forces".