Security |

Yemen forces launch Marib military operation

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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Saudi soldiers stand guard before aid supplies are unloaded from a Saudi air force cargo plane at an airfield in Yemen's Marib province on March 12th, 2018. The Saudi-led Arab coalition is backing a Yemeni push to recapture parts of the province from the Houthis. [Abdullah al-Qadry/AFP]

Yemeni forces, backed by Arab coalition warplanes, have launched a large-scale military operation to wrest control of Marib province's Sirwah district from the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah).

The fighting, which has killed dozens on both sides in recent days, comes as part of Yemeni efforts to push back on the militia following its capture of al-Hazm in the neighbouring province of al-Jawf on March 1st, and subsequent gains.

The storming of al-Hazm sparked a major wave of displacement towards Marib province, with vehicles carrying displaced residents travelling along rough terrain and desert pathways to avoid Houthi bombardment on the main road.

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Yemeni pro-government forces gather at the military base of Nehm, in Sanaa province, the frontline with the Marib region, on April 7th, 2016. [Nabil Hasan/AFP]

"The army's operation to recapture Sirwah and Mount Haylan has become a necessity at this time," said Col. Yahya Abu Hatem of the Yemeni armed forces' moral guidance department.

The operation aims "to secure the supply routes and roads between Marib, al-Jawf and Sanaa provinces, and also to secure military units stationed in al-Mashjah, al-Makhdra and Sirwah", he said.

"The recapture of Mount Haylan is aimed at securing Marib against Houthis' artillery and Katyusha rocket attacks originating from that mountain," he said.

"Activating the Sirwah front also will distract Houthi forces, and they will now be forced to move assets and fighters to the newly-ignited fronts," he added.

"In this way, they will be exposed to Arab coalition warplanes," he said, noting that "artillery strikes and coalition airstrikes are targeting the Houthis' reinforcements, sent to help out on Sirwah front".

Push to recapture Sirwah

Yemeni forces have reclaimed al-Tabba al-Hamra (Red Hill), the second highest elevation after Mount Haylan, Abu Hatem said, as well as parts of Mount Haylan.

Opening more than one front, with air cover from the Arab coalition, will distract the Houthis, who already have lost hundreds of fighters in al-Jawf and Nahm, political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

"The Houthis were planning to advance towards Marib to relieve the pressures they are facing from the national army in al-Jawf province after the army recaptured areas in 'Khabb wal Shaaf' district," he said.

The Houthis are retreating from this area, which borders Saudi Arabia, he said.

"Recapturing Sirwah will open the way for moving in two directions: Marib and Sanaa," Ahmed said. The goal of capturing Mount Haylan "is to have fire control over vast swathes of Sirwah in the direction of Sanaa and Marib".

During a Saturday (March 7th) meeting with the Marib governor and other senior officials in the province, UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths reiterated his call for a freeze on military activities.

"Last week, I issued a public call for a freeze on military activities. Today, I am reiterating that call for an immediate and unconditional freeze and the start of a comprehensive and inclusive and accountable de-escalation process," he said.

He underscored the UN position that the conflict cannot be solved on the battlefield.

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where's this news story from? The people are bored and in despair.

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The same lies! You, o, prostitutes, say that Nahm was liberated! However, Nahm and al-Jawf have fallen.

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The Ansarullah of Yemen is always victorious.

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We have to remove this damned, Magi tree from the entire Yemen; we have to uproot their damned pagan tree.

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