After suffering a string of military setbacks and defeats, the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have launched several recent attacks on military parades in Yemen's al-Dhale province.
On the morning of January 7th, the Houthis launched a missile attack on a military camp housing Yemeni forces, killing 11 Yemeni soldiers and wounding more than 20 others.
The missile hit al-Sadrain camp in al-Dhale as soldiers were gathering to take part in a military parade.
Children and youth also were present during the attack, local media reported.
The al-Sadrain camp incident was the second attack the Houthis have carried out in the province north of Aden in recent weeks.
On December 29th, five soldiers of the southern Security Belt Forces were killed in a similar attack on a military parade in al-Sumoud square in al-Dhale city.
"The Houthis' targeting of military parades in al-Dhale, at al-Sadrain camp and al-Sumoud square, stems from their defeats on the various al-Dhale fronts," said Majid al-Shuaibi, spokesman for the Joint Southern Forces in al-Dhale.
Joint forces have liberated most districts in al-Dhale from the Houthis, and have reached some areas in the adjacent provinces of Ibb and Taez, he told Al-Mashareq.
The defeat of the Houthis on all fronts in al-Dhale "has prompted the militia to take their revenge on the province by targeting military parades", he said.
Houthi losses and setbacks
The Houthis suffered a setback during December 31st fighting, when Joint Southern Forces targeted their sites in al-Qahra on al-Dhale's Maris front.
Seven Houthis were killed, including field commander Col. Yahya al-Houmi, and 18 were wounded.
Fighting in al-Dhale on December 27th also left 13 Houthis dead in the districts of al-Fakher and al-Oud, and seven dead on the Maris front.
Dozens more were injured.
Additionally, 60 Houthi fighters defected, led by commander Abu al-Hussein al-Ibbi from Ibb province, after a fight broke out between al-Ibbi and a militia superintendent on al-Dhale front over the military defeats.
The Houthis' targeting of military parades has sparked official and public condemnation, with presidential directives ordering higher security alert levels.
Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi on December 29th phoned the governor of al-Dhale following the attack on al-Sumoud square and called on the security forces to exercise higher vigilance to thwart possible Houthi attacks.
On the same day, the Southern Transitional Council condemned "the cowardly criminal act", saying the Houthis bear full responsibility for targeting innocent civilians and children.
Measures to protect soldiers
"The targeting of soldiers, especially new recruits, is an act of revenge perpetrated by the Houthi militia against the Yemeni people," human rights activist Abdul Rahman Barman told Al-Mashareq.
The Houthis launched the two missile strikes on al-Sumoud square and al-Sadrain camp from the same location on one of the heights they control in Damt district, political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.
The successive defeats the Houthis have suffered in al-Dhale "drove it to seek revenge in a manner that is condemned by all", he said.
After the Houthi attacks, he said, "instructions were issued by the army command ordering the suspension of military parades and the implementation of measures to protect against the targeting of soldier gatherings in the camps".