Al Mukalla: Yemen government forces rolled 12km into Al Houthi-held territory in Marib’s Serwah district and are besieging the rebel forces on a strategic mountain, an army general told Gulf News on Tuesday.
The army troops and allied tribesmen on Monday morning launched a major offensive to push Al Houthis and army forces loyal to president Ali Abdullah Saleh from their last stronghold in Marib’s Serwah district.
“Our forces have liberated 12km from Serwah and laying a siege on Al Houthis on Al Hamera Mountain that overlooks Serwah’s airport,” Major Mohsin Ali Khasrouf, the chief of Yemen’s Armed Forces Moral Guidance Department, told Gulf News from Marib.
About the strategic significance of Serwah operation, Khasrouf, who is also a veteran military analyst, said the rebels forces are showing stiff resistance in the district as losing the district would pave the way for the army forces to push into opening a new front in Khawlan district of Sana’a province.
“Serwah is another gate to Sana’a province. Recapturing it will mean another battlefield outside the capital similar to Nehm’s,” he said.
Yemen army’s chief of staff and other senior army commanders were seen visiting liberated regions in Serwah on Monday afternoon. Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition had conducted dozens of air raids targeting Al Houthis’ military reinforcement and hilly sites. Khasrouf said the recent territorial victories have given a morale boost to the government forces and contributed to eroding Al Houthis’ grip on the district.
“We have information that there is growing resentment against the militia’s ruling of the district. People are fed up with the status quo and long for the rule of law,” he said.
Khasrouf said when the government forces take control of Serwah, the city of Marib would be completely safe from Al Houthis’ random shelling. Tens of Al Houthi fighters were killed in clashes and air strikes in Marib in the last couple of days.
Marib was among very few Yemeni provinces that fought off Al Houthis’ rapid expansion in early 2015 and was later turned into a starting point for army ground forces that pushed into Jawf and Sana’a.
In the northern province of Jawf, another flaring battleground, government forces have recaptured new territories in Ghayel district under heavy aerial support from the coalition warplanes. Jawf Media Centre said on Tuesday that the forces have recaptured Al Selan region and are pushing into driving the rebels from their last territory in Ghayel district.